Comparison of the ligand binding properties of two homologous rat apocellular retinol-binding proteins expressed in Escherichia coli.

M. S. Levin, B. Locke, N. C. Yang, E. Li, J. I. Gordon

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75 Scopus citations


Cellular retinol-binding protein (CRBP) and cellular retinol-binding protein II (CRBP II) are 132-residue cytosolic proteins which have 56% amino acid sequence identity and bind all-trans-retinol as their endogenous ligand. They belong to a family of cytoplasmic proteins which have evolved to bind distinct hydrophobic ligands. Their patterns of tissue-specific and developmental regulation are distinct. We have compared the ligand binding properties of rat apo-CRBP and apo-CRBP II that have been expressed in Escherichia coli. Several observations indicate that the E. coli-derived apoproteins are structurally similar to the native rat proteins: they co-migrate on isoelectric focusing gels; and when complexed with all-trans-retinol, their absorption and excitation/emission spectra are nearly identical to those of the authentic rat holoproteins. Comparative lifetime and acrylamide quenching studies suggest that there are differences in the conformations of apo-CRBP and apo-CRBP II. The interaction of E. coli-derived apo-CRBP and apo-CRBP II with a variety of retinoids was analyzed using spectroscopic techniques. Both apoproteins formed high affinity complexes with all-trans-retinol (K'd approximately 10 nM). In direct binding assays, all-trans-retinal bound to both apoproteins (K'd approximately 50 nM for CRBP; K'd approximately 90 nM for CRBP II). However, all-trans-retinal could displace all-trans-retinol bound to CRBP II but not to CRBP. These observations suggests that there is a specific yet distinct interaction between these two proteins and all-trans-retinal. Apo-CRBP and apo-CRBP II did not demonstrate significant binding to either retinoic acid or methyl retinoate, an uncharged derivative of all-trans-retinoic acid. This indicates that the carboxymethyl group of methyl retinoate cannot be sterically accommodated in their binding pockets and that failure to bind retinoic acid probably is not simply due to the negative charge of its C-15 carboxylate group. Finally, neither all-trans-retinol nor retinoic acid bound to E. coli-derived rat intestinal fatty acid-binding protein, a homologous protein whose tertiary structure is known. Together, the data suggest that these three family members have acquired unique functional capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17715-17723
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of biological chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Nov 25 1988


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