The chicken is a useful model for studies of lipid biochemistry because of the profound changes in lipid metabolism during development and the marked effects of estrogen on its lipids. Here we report the cloning of a cDNA encoding chicken sterol carrier protein 2 (SCP2)/sterol carrier protein x (SCPx), proteins that are believed to play key roles in intracellular lipid movement and metabolism. The 2.4-kb clone, isolated from a liver cDNA library by homology screening with a rat SCP2 cDNA, encodes a 58-kDa polypeptide, SCPx, which encompasses the sequence for SCP2 at its C-terminus. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequence of the chicken protein with those of mammals revealed conservation of structure from an evolutionary standpoint. Like the other vertebrate SCPx proteins, the chicken protein contains a conserved Arg-Gly-Asp sequence and a cysteine residue in the N-terminus that aligns with the active site cysteine of Escherichia coli 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase, a protein that was previously shown to be homologous to vertebrate SCPx. Northern blot analysis of poly(A)+ RNA from different chicken tissues revealed two mRNA species, one of 2.5 kb, encoding SCPx, and one of 1.4 kb, presumably encoding SCP2. High levels of the 2.5 and 1.4-kb mRNAs were found in liver, intestine, and ovarian granulosa cells, consistent with a role for these proteins in lipid metabolism. There was no change in the 2.5-kb mRNA in chicken liver with development (Day 20 embryo to 4 weeks posthatch), but there was a 10-fold in-crease in the 1.4-kb mRNA by 1 week posthatch. Treatment of roosters with a single injection of estradiol (25 mg/kg) caused a twofold increase in the 2.5-kb mRNA in liver at 6 h after estradiol administration, reaching a maximum fourfold increase at 48 h, while the 1.4-kb mRNA increased twofold at 48 h. The two SCP2/SCPx mRNAs were most abundant in granulosa cells from small follicles. A reduction in SCP2/SCPx gene expression was observed with follicular maturation, correlating with falling estrogen production. In summary, we have documented (i) marked conservation of SCP2/SCPx structure across species and (ii) developmental and hormonal regulation of the mRNAs which encode proteins thought to be involved in lipid metabolism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology