[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fatty acid binding protein 3 (FABP3) is a member of a family of binding proteins. The protein is mainly expressed in cardiac and skeletal muscle cells, and it has been linked to fatty acid metabolism, trafficking, and signaling. Using suppression subtractive hybridization, we previously found that FABP3 is highly regulated in ventricular septal defect (VSD) patients and may play a significant role in the development of human VSD. We therefore aimed to identify the biological characteristics of the FABP3 gene in embryonic myocardial cells. On the basis of RT-PCR and western blotting analyses, we demonstrated that the expression levels of FABP3 mRNA and protein were up-regulated initially and then gradually decreased with P19 cell differentiation. MTT assays and cell cycle analysis showed that FABP3 inhibits P19 cell proliferation, and data from annexin V-FITC assays revealed that FABP3 can promote apoptosis of P19 cells. Further data from quantitative real-time RT-PCR revealed lower expression levels of cardiac muscle-specific molecular markers (cTnT, alpha-MHC, GATA4, and MEF2c) in FABP3-overexpressing cell lines than in the control cells during differentiation. Our results demonstrate that FABP3 may be involved in the differentiation of cardiac myocytes.