The liver bile acid-binding proteins, L-BABPs, formerly called the liver ‘‘basic’’ fatty acid-binding proteins, are a subfamily of the fatty acid-binding proteins, FABPs. All the members of this protein group share the same fold: a 10 stranded b barrel in which two short helices are inserted in between the first and the second strand of antiparallel b sheet. The barrel encloses the ligand binding cavity of the protein while the two helices are believed to be involved in ligand accessibility to the binding site. The L-BABP subfamily has been found to be present in the liver of several vertebrates: fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds but not in mammals. The members of the FABP family present in mammals that appear to be more closely related to the L-BABPs are the liver FABPs and the ileal BABPs, both very extensively studied. Several L-BABP X-ray structures are available and chicken L-BABP has also been studied using NMR spectroscopy. The stoichiometry of ligand binding for bile acids, first determined by X-ray crystallography for the chicken liver protein, is of two cholates per protein molecule with the only exception of zebrafish L-BABP which, due to the presence of a disulfide bridge, has a stoichiometry of 1:1. The stoichiometry of ligand binding for fatty acids, determined with several different techniques, is 1:1. An unanswered question of great relevance is the identity of the protein that in mammals performs the function that in other vertebrates is carried out by the L-BABPS.
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