Acyl-CoA-binding protein (ACBP) has been identified in a number of tissues and shown to affect the intracellular distribution and utilization of acyl-CoA. We have detected ACBP in the cytosol but not the membrane of human red blood cells and, using an e.l.i.s.a. with antibodies prepared against human liver ACBP, found that its concentration was 0.5 microM. To investigate the role of ACBP in human red blood cells, we added purified human liver ACBP and radiolabelled acyl-CoA to isolated membranes from these cells. ACBP prevented high concentrations of acyl-CoA from binding to the membrane but could not keep the acyl-CoA in the aqueous phase at low concentrations. This suggested the presence of a pool in the membrane with a binding affinity for acyl-CoA that was greater than that of ACBP for acyl-CoA. In the presence of lysophospholipid, this membrane-bound pool of acyl-CoA was rapidly used as a substrate by acyl-CoA:lysophospholipid acyltransferase (LAT) to generate phospholipid from lysophospholipid. We also found that ACBP-bound acyl-CoA was preferred over free acyl-CoA as a substrate by LAT. These results are the first documentation that human red blood cells contain ACBP and that this protein can affect the utilization of acyl-CoA in plasma membranes of these cells. The interactions between acyl-CoA, ACBP and the membrane suggest that there are several pools of acyl-CoA in the human red blood cell and that ACBP may have a role in regulating their distribution and fate.

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