Ligand binding proteins: roles in ligand transfer and activation of nuclear receptors
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Cholesterol and fatty acyl-coenzymeA thioesters are signalling molecules with role in regulation of genes involved in lipid and glucose transport and metabolism. The studies described herein focused on three proteins that bind lipids and have different cellular functions: steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), hepatocyte nuclear factor-4a (HNF-4a) and acyl-CoA binding protein (ACBP). First, StAR mediates delivery of cholesterol to inner mitochondrial membrane in steroidogenesis by a poorly understood mechanism. In our studies, fluorescent NBD-cholesterol binding assays demonstrate that StAR binds cholesterol at two binding sites with 32 nM Kds and circular dichroism spectra show that cholesterol binding results in changes of StAR secondary structure. Fluorescent sterol exchange assays between donor and acceptor mitochondrial membranes indicate that StAR significantly increased the formation of rapidly transferable cholesterol domains. Second, HNF-4a, a nuclear receptor, had been shown to bind fatty acyl-CoAs as natural ligands with apparent low affinities obtained with radiolabeled ligand binding assays. Our fluorescence spectroscopy studies demonstrate that HNF-4a ligand binding domain (HNF-4aLBD) binds acyl-CoAs at a single binding site with Kds of 1.6-4 nM. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between HNF-4aLBD tryptophan residues and cis-parinaroyl-CoA yielded an intermolecular distance of 42 Â thus pointing to direct molecular interaction. Third, although ACBP has been detected in the nucleus, it is not known whether ACBP may directly and/or functionally interact with a nuclear acyl-CoA binding protein such as HNF-4a to regulate transcription. Our present studies in vitro and in intact cultured cells, including circular dichroism of HNF-4a in the presence of ACBP, coimmunoprecipitation of HNF-4a/ACBP complexes, ACBP and HNF-4a colocalization in nuclei of cells by confocal microscopy demonstrate a physical association of ACBP and HNF-4a. FRET microscopy data indicated an intermolecular distance of 53 Â between ACBP and HNF-4a in rat hepatoma cells. Functional assays (transactivation of an HNF4a-dependent reporter gene) showed significant increase in the presence of ACBP in two different cell lines. Expression of ACBP anti-sense RNA decreased HNF-4a-mediated transactivation, pointing to a role of ACBP in co-regulating HNF-4a-dependent transcription.
Petrescu, Anca Daniela (2006). Ligand binding proteins: roles in ligand transfer and activation of nuclear receptors. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from