Tissue-specific functions in the fatty acid-binding protein family

J Biol Chem. 2010 Oct 22;285(43):32679-32683. doi: 10.1074/jbc.R110.135210. Epub 2010 Aug 17.


The intracellular fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) are abundantly expressed in almost all tissues. They exhibit high affinity binding of a single long-chain fatty acid, with the exception of liver FABP, which binds two fatty acids or other hydrophobic molecules. FABPs have highly similar tertiary structures consisting of a 10-stranded antiparallel β-barrel and an N-terminal helix-turn-helix motif. Research emerging in the last decade has suggested that FABPs have tissue-specific functions that reflect tissue-specific aspects of lipid and fatty acid metabolism. Proposed roles for FABPs include assimilation of dietary lipids in the intestine, targeting of liver lipids to catabolic and anabolic pathways, regulation of lipid storage and lipid-mediated gene expression in adipose tissue and macrophages, fatty acid targeting to β-oxidation pathways in muscle, and maintenance of phospholipid membranes in neural tissues. The regulation of these diverse processes is accompanied by the expression of different and sometimes multiple FABPs in these tissues and may be driven by protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Helix-Turn-Helix Motifs
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Binding / physiology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Fatty Acids