, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-17
Date: 19 Sep 2007

Role of Fatty Acid Binding Proteins and Long Chain Fatty Acids in Modulating Nuclear Receptors and Gene Transcription

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Abstract

Abnormal energy regulation may significantly contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. For rapid control of energy homeostasis, allosteric and posttranslational events activate or alter activity of key metabolic enzymes. For longer impact, transcriptional regulation is more effective, especially in response to nutrients such as long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Recent advances provide insights into how poorly water-soluble lipid nutrients [LCFA; retinoic acid (RA)] and their metabolites (long chain fatty acyl Coenzyme A, LCFA-CoA) reach nuclei, bind their cognate ligand-activated receptors, and regulate transcription for signaling lipid and glucose catabolism or storage: (i) while serum and cytoplasmic LCFA levels are in the 200 μM–mM range, real-time imaging recently revealed that LCFA and LCFA-CoA are also located within nuclei (nM range); (ii) sensitive fluorescence binding assays show that LCFA-activated nuclear receptors [peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPARα) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α)] exhibit high affinity (low nM K d s) for LCFA (PPARα) and/or LCFA-CoA (PPARα, HNF4α)—in the same range as nuclear levels of these ligands; (iii) live and fixed cell immunolabeling and imaging revealed that some cytoplasmic lipid binding proteins [liver fatty acid binding protein (L-FABP), acyl CoA binding protein (ACBP), cellular retinoic acid binding protein-2 (CRABP-2)] enter nuclei, bind nuclear receptors (PPARα, HNF4α, CRABP-2), and activate transcription of genes in fatty acid and glucose metabolism; and (iv) studies with gene ablated mice provided physiological relevance of LCFA and LCFA-CoA binding proteins in nuclear signaling. This led to the hypothesis that cytoplasmic lipid binding proteins transfer and channel lipidic ligands into nuclei for initiating nuclear receptor transcriptional activity to provide new lipid nutrient signaling pathways that affect lipid and glucose catabolism and storage.