Acyl CoA Binding Protein (ACBP) Gene Ablation Induces Pre-Implantation Embryonic Lethality in Mice
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Unique among the intracellular lipid binding proteins, acyl CoA binding protein (ACBP) exclusively binds long chain fatty acyl CoAs (LCFA-CoAs). To test if ACBP is an essential protein in mammals, the ACBP gene was ablated by homologous recombination in mice. While ACBP heterozygotes appeared phenotypically normal, intercrossing of the heterozygotes did not result in any live homozygous deficient (null) ACBP^(-/-) pups. Heterozygous and wild type embryos were detected at all postimplantation stages, but no homozygous ACBP null embryos were obtained? suggesting that an embryonic lethality occurred at a preimplantation stage of development, or that embryos never formed. While ACBP null embryos were not detected at any blastocyst stage, ACBP null embryos were detected at the morula (8- cell), cleavage (2-cell), and zygote (1-cell) preimplantation stages. Two other LCFACoA binding proteins, sterol carrier protein-2 (SCP-2) and sterol carrier protein-x (SCPx) were significantly upregulated at these stages. These findings demonstrate for the first time that ACBP is an essential protein required for embryonic development and its loss of function may be initially compensated by concomitant upregulation of two other LCFA-CoA binding proteins only at the earliest preimplantation stages. The fact that ACBP is the first known intracellular lipid binding protein whose deletion results in embryonic lethality suggests its vital importance in mammals.