• bile salts;
  • dynamics;
  • fatty acids;
  • intracellular lipid transport;
  • NMR spectroscopy


Human liver fatty acid binding protein (hL-FABP) has been reported to act as an intracellular shuttle of lipid molecules, thus playing a central role in systemic metabolic homeostasis. The involvement of hL-FABP in the transport of bile salts has been postulated but scarcely investigated. Here we describe a thorough NMR investigation of glycocholate (GCA) binding to hL-FABP. The protein molecule bound a single molecule of GCA, in contrast to the 1:2 stoichiometry observed with fatty acids. GCA was found to occupy the large internal cavity of hL-FABP, without requiring major conformational rearrangement of the protein backbone; rather, this led to increased stability, similar to that estimated for the hL-FABP:oleate complex. Fast-timescale dynamics appeared not to be significantly perturbed in the presence of ligands. Slow motions (unlike for other proteins of the family) were retained or enhanced upon binding, consistent with a requirement for structural plasticity for promiscuous recognition.