Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2: A paradigm for allosteric regulation by membranes

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Jan 11;119(2):e2102953118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2102953118.


Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) associates with low- and high-density lipoproteins in human plasma and specifically hydrolyzes circulating oxidized phospholipids involved in oxidative stress. The association of this enzyme with the lipoprotein's phospholipid monolayer to access its substrate is the most crucial first step in its catalytic cycle. The current study demonstrates unequivocally that a significant movement of a major helical peptide region occurs upon membrane binding, resulting in a large conformational change upon Lp-PLA2 binding to a phospholipid surface. This allosteric regulation of an enzyme's activity by a large membrane-like interface inducing a conformational change in the catalytic site defines a unique dimension of allosterism. The mechanism by which this enzyme associates with phospholipid interfaces to select and extract a single phospholipid substrate molecule and carry out catalysis is key to understanding its physiological functioning. A lipidomics platform was employed to determine the precise substrate specificity of human recombinant Lp-PLA2 and mutants. This study uniquely elucidates the association mechanism of this enzyme with membranes and its resulting conformational change as well as the extraction and binding of specific oxidized and short acyl-chain phospholipid substrates. Deuterium exchange mass spectrometry coupled with molecular dynamics simulations was used to define the precise specificity of the subsite for the oxidized fatty acid at the sn-2 position of the phospholipid backbone. Despite the existence of several crystal structures of this enzyme cocrystallized with inhibitors, little was understood about Lp-PLA2's specificity toward oxidized phospholipids.

Keywords: allosterism; lipid; lipoprotein; membrane; phospholipase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 1-Alkyl-2-acetylglycerophosphocholine Esterase / chemistry*
  • 1-Alkyl-2-acetylglycerophosphocholine Esterase / metabolism*
  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Binding Sites
  • Catalysis
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Fatty Acids
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / metabolism
  • Membranes
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Phospholipids
  • 1-Alkyl-2-acetylglycerophosphocholine Esterase