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Biochemistry. 1993 Jan 26;32(3):872-8.

Ligand-protein electrostatic interactions govern the specificity of retinol- and fatty acid-binding proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


Cellular retinol-binding protein II (CRBP-II) and intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) are both expressed in small intestinal enterocytes and exhibit 31% sequence identity. I-FABP binds a single molecule of long-chain fatty acid and forms an ion-pair electrostatic interaction between the cationic side chain of arginine-106 and the anionic fatty acid carboxyl group. In contrast, CRBP-II binds all-trans-retinol or -retinal and contains a glutamine residue in the corresponding position, residue 109. We have characterized and compared the interactions of fatty acids and retinoids with I-FABP, CRBP-II, and two reciprocal mutant proteins. The mutants were designated CRBP-II(Q109R), where glutamine-109 was replaced by arginine, and I-FABP(R106Q), where arginine-106 was replaced by glutamine. As monitored by titration calorimetry and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy, the fatty acid-binding properties of CRBP-II(Q109R) were found to be essentially identical to those of wild-type I-FABP. Both proteins bound 1 molecule of fatty acid with identical affinities (Kd = 0.2 microM). The enthalpic contribution to the total free energy of binding was large for both proteins: 66% and 87%, respectively. In addition, the carboxyl groups of fatty acids bound to both proteins were solvent-inaccessible. There was little or no change in the ionization state of the bound fatty acid over a wide pH range, as monitored by the chemical shift of the fatty acid carboxyl 13C resonance. Furthermore, the binding of fatty acid to both proteins was accompanied by a selective perturbation of the guanidino 13C resonance of a single arginine residue.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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