Plasma lipoprotein surface properties are important but poorly understood determinants of lipoprotein catabolism. To elucidate the relation between surface properties and surface reactivity, the physical properties of surface monolayers of native lipoproteins and lipoprotein models were investigated by fluorescent probes of surface lipid fluidity, surface lateral diffusion, and interfacial polarity, and by their reactivity to Naja melanoleuca phospholipase A2 (PLA2). Native lipoproteins were human very low, low-, and subclass 3 high-density lipoproteins (VLDL, LDL, and HDL3); models were 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) or its ether analog in single-bilayer vesicles, large and small microemulsions of POPC and triolein, and reassembled HDL (apolipoprotein A-1 plus phospholipid). Among lipoproteins, surface lipid fluidity increased in the order HDL3 < LDL < VLDL, varying inversely with their (protein + cholesterol)/phospholipid ratios. Models resembled VLDL in fluidity. Both lateral mobility in the surface monolayer and polarity of the interfacial region were lower in native lipoproteins than in models. Among native lipoproteins and models, increased fluidity in the surface monolayer was associated with increased reactivity to PLA2. Addition of cholesterol (up to 20 mol%) to models had little effect on PLA2 activity, whereas the addition of apolipoprotein C-III stimulated it. Single-bilayer vesicles, phospholipid- triolein microemulsions, and VLDL have surface monolayers that are quantitatively similar, and distinct from those of LDL and HDL3. Surface property and enzymatic reactivity differences between lipoproteins and models were associated with differences in surface monolayer protein and cholesterol contents. Thus differences in the surface properties that regulate lipolytic reactivity are a predictable function of surface composition.
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