Phosphatidylinositol transfer protein (PI-TP) and the non-specific lipid transfer protein (nsL-TP) (identical with sterol carrier protein 2) belong to the large and diverse family of intracellular lipid-binding proteins. Although these two proteins may express a comparable phospholipid transfer activity in vitro, recent studies in yeast and mammalian cells have indicated that they serve completely different functions. PI-TP (identical with yeast SEC14p) plays an important role in vesicle flow both in the budding reaction from the trans-Golgi network and in the fusion reaction with the plasma membrane. In yeast, vesicle budding is linked to PI-TP regulating Golgi phosphatidylcholine (PC) biosynthesis with the apparent purpose of maintaining an optimal PI/PC ratio of the Golgi complex. In mammalian cells, vesicle flow appears to be dependent on PI-TP stimulating phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) synthesis. This latter process may also be linked to the ability of PI-TP to reconstitute the receptor-controlled PIP2-specific phospholipase C activity. The nsL-TP is a peroxisomal protein which, by its ability to bind fatty acyl-CoAs, is most likely involved in the β-oxidation of fatty acids in this organelle. This protein constitutes the N-terminus of the 58 kDa protein which is one of the peroxisomal 3-oxo-acyl-CoA thiolases. Further studies on these and other known phospholipid transfer proteins are bound to reveal new insights in their important role as mediators between lipid metabolism and cell functions.

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