Expression of rat L-FABP in mouse fibroblasts: role in fat absorption

F. Schroeder, J. R. Jefferson, D. Powell, S. Incerpi, J. K. Woodford, S. M. Colles, S. Myers-Payne, T. Emge, T. Hubbell, D. Moncecchi, D. R. Prows, C. E. Heyliger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Fatty acid-binding proteins (FABP) are abundant cytosolic proteins whose level is responsive to nutritional, endocrine, and a variety of pathological states. Although FABPs have been investigated in vitro for several decades, little is known of their physiological function. Liver L-FABP binds both fatty acids and cholesterol. Competitive binding analysis and molecular modeling studies of L-FABP indicate the presence of two ligand binding pockets that accomodate one fatty acid each. One fatty acid binding site is identical to the cholesterol binding site. To test whether these observations obtained in vitro were physiologically relevant, the cDNA encoding L-FABP was transfected into L-cells, a cell line with very low endogenous FABP and sterol carrier proteins. Uptake of both ligands did not differ between control cells and low expression clones. In contrast, both fatty acid uptake and cholesterol uptake were stimulated in the high expression cells. In high expression cells, uptake of fluorescent cis-parinaric acid was enhanced more than that of trans-parinaric acid. This is consistent with the preferential binding of cis-fatty acids to L-FABP but in contrast to the preferential binding of trans-parinaric acid to the L-cell plasma membrane fatty acid transporter (PMFABP). These data show that the level of cytosolic fatty acids in intact cells can regulate both the extent and specificity of fatty acid uptake. Last, sphingomyelinase treatment of L-cells released cholesterol from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm and stimulated microsomal acyl-CoA: cholesteryl acyl transferase (ACAT). This process was accelerated in high expression cells. These observations show for the first time in intact cells that L-FABP, a protein most prevalent in liver and intestine where much fat absorption takes place, may have a role in fatty acid and cholesterol absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


  • L-cells
  • cholesterol
  • cis-parinaric acid
  • dehydroergosterol
  • epinephrine
  • fat
  • fatty acid
  • fatty acid-binding protein
  • fluorescence
  • insulin
  • liver
  • sterol binding protein
  • transport


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