Liver fatty acid binding protein (L-FABP) is an abundant cytosolic protein playing a central role in intracellular lipid trafficking. The L-FABP T94A variant, originating from one of the most common polymorphisms in the FABP family, is associated with several lipid-related disorders. However, the molecular factors that determine the observed functional differences are currently unknown. In our work, we performed a high resolution comparative molecular analysis of L-FABP T94T and L-FABP T94A in their unbound states and in the presence of representative ligands of the fatty acid and bile acid classes. We collected residue-resolved NMR spectral fingerprints of the two variants, and compared secondary structures, backbone dynamics, side chain arrangements, binding site occupation, and intermolecular contacts. We found that threonine to alanine replacement did not result in strongly perturbed structural and dynamic features, although differences in oleic acid binding by the two variants were detected. Based on chemical shift perturbations at sites distant from position 94 and on differences in intermolecular contacts, we suggest that long-range communication networks in L-FABP propagate the effect of amino acid substitution at sites relevant for ligand binding or biomolecular recognition.
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