Investigation of the interaction of ceramide and acyl-coenzyme A with the mitochondrial associated protein, endozepine, using heteronuclear NMR
Onyemata, Ezenwa James
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Endozepine is an alternative name for the testis-specific isoform of the acyl-CoA binding protein (t-ACBP). Acyl-CoA binding proteins form a highly conserved family of proteins, which bind long chain fatty acid esters with nanomolar affinity. They are also known to be endogenous ligands to the --amino butyric acid (GABA) receptor in the central nervous system and to play a role in a wide variety of cellular functions such as vesicular trafficking, fatty acid biosynthesis and gene regulation. A role for endozepine in apoptosis was suggested through promoter gene trapping studies using CHO22 cells in which 90 % reduction in the expression of endozepine correlated with delayed mitochondrial permeabilization, a reduced activation of caspase-3 (an activator of apoptosis) and a consequent resistance to C2-ceramide induced apoptosis. Transduction studies using Tat-GFP-ELP fusion protein showed that endozepine restored the sensitivity of mutant CHO22 cells to C2-ceramide induced apoptosis. In this thesis, we have investigated two hypotheses for the involvement of endozepine in ceramide-induced apoptosis. The first hypothesis is that endozepine contributes to apoptosis through the transport of palmitoyl-CoA, a substrate required for the de novo synthesis of ceramide. The second hypothesis is that endozepine interacts directly with ceramide leading to interaction with peripheral benzodiazepine receptor and a subsequent opening of the mitochondria permeability transition pore, leading to apoptosis.