Zinc-induced oligomerization of zinc α2 glycoprotein reveals multiple fatty acid-binding sites

Henna Zahid, Layeque Miah, Andy M Lau, Lea Brochard, Debolina Hati, Tam T T Bui, Alex F. Drake, Jayesh Gor, Stephen J Perkins, Lindsay C McDermott

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Zinc α2 glycoprotein (ZAG) is an adipokine with a class I MHC protein fold and is associated with obesity and diabetes. Although its intrinsic ligand remains unknown, ZAG binds the dansylated C11 fatty acid 11-(dansylamino)undecanoic acid (DAUDA) in the groove between the α1 and α2 domains. The surface of ZAG has approximately 15 weak zinc-binding sites deemed responsible for precipitation from human plasma. In the present study the functional significance of these metal sites was investigated. Analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) and CD showed that zinc, but not other divalent metals, causes ZAG to oligomerize in solution. Thus ZAG dimers and trimers were observed in the presence of 1 and 2 mM zinc. Molecular modelling of X-ray scattering curves and sedimentation coefficients indicated a progressive stacking of ZAG monomers, suggesting that the ZAG groove may be occluded in these. Using fluorescence-detected sedimentation velocity, these ZAG-zinc oligomers were again observed in the presence of the fluorescent boron dipyrromethene fatty acid C16-BODIPY (4,4-difluoro-5,7-dimethyl-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene-3-hexadecanoic acid). Fluorescence spectroscopy confirmed that ZAG binds C16-BODIPY. ZAG binding to C16-BODIPY, but not to DAUDA, was reduced by increased zinc concentrations. We conclude that the lipid-binding groove in ZAG contains at least two distinct fatty acid-binding sites for DAUDA and C16-BODIPY, similar to the multiple lipid binding seen in the structurally related immune protein CD1c. In addition, because high concentrations of zinc occur in the pancreas, the perturbation of these multiple lipid-binding sites by zinc may be significant in Type 2 diabetes where dysregulation of ZAG and zinc homoeostasis occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date9 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Analytical ultracentrifugation
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fluorescence
  • Obesity
  • Oligomerization
  • Zinc Α2 Glycoprotein.


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