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Prog Lipid Res. 2001 Nov;40(6):498-563.

Gene structure, intracellular localization, and functional roles of sterol carrier protein-2.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University, TVMC, College Station, TX 77843-4467, USA.


Since its discovery three decades ago, sterol carrier protein-2 (SCP-2) has remained a fascinating protein whose physiological function in lipid metabolism remains an enigma. Its multiple proposed functions arise from its complex gene structure, post-translational processing, intracellular localization, and ligand specificity. The SCP-2 gene has two initiation sites coding for proteins that share a common 13 kDa SCP-2 C-terminus: (1) One site codes for 58 kDa SCP-x which is partially post-translationally cleaved to 13 kDa SCP-2 and a 45 kDa protein. (2) A second site codes for 15 kDa pro-SCP-2 which is completely post-translationally cleaved to 13 kDa SCP-2. Very little is yet known regarding how the relative proportions of the two transcripts are regulated. Although all three proteins contain a C-terminal SKL peroxisomal targeting sequence, it is unclear why all three proteins are not exclusively localized in peroxisomes. However, the recent demonstration that the SCP-2 N-terminal presequence in pro-SCP-2 dramatically modulated the intracellular targeting coded by the C-terminal peroxisomal targeting sequence may account for the observation that as much as half of total SCP-2 is localized outside the peroxisome. The tertiary and secondary structure of the 13 kDa SCP-2, but not that of 15 kDa pro-SCP-2 and 58 kDa SCP-x, are now resolved. Increasing evidence suggests that the 58 kDa SCP-x and 45 kDa proteins are peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA-thiolases involved in the oxidation of branched chain fatty acids. Since 15 kDa pro-SCP-2 is post-translationally completely cleaved to 13 kDa SCP-2, relatively little attention has been focused on this protein. Finally, although the 13 kDa SCP-2 is the most studied of these proteins, because it exhibits diversity of its ligand partners (fatty acids, fatty acyl CoAs, cholesterol, phospholipids), new potential physiological function(s) are still being proposed and questions regarding potential compensation by other proteins with overlapping specificity are only beginning to be resolved.

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