Lysophospholipases A1 which catalyse the hydrolysis of acyl groups from 1-acylglycerophosphocholine (GPC) have been characterized in a number of mammalian tissues and do not exhibit any acyl specificity. In the present study lysophospholipase activity in guinea-pig heart microsomes (microsomal fractions) that hydrolyses 2-acyl-GPC was detected and characterized. The enzyme showed a high degree of acyl specificity. The relative rates of hydrolysis of individual 2-acyl-GPCs with different fatty acids was as follows: C18:2/C20:1/C18:1/C16:0, 14:6:1:1. When substrates were presented in pairs, the hydrolysis of each substrate by the enzyme was inhibited, but to very different extents. Of each pair of lysolipids examined (2-arachidonoyl- and 2-palmitoyl-GPC; 2-arachidonoyl- and 2-linoleoyl-GPC), the one with the expected higher rate of hydrolysis was more severely inhibited and the degree of inhibition was dependent on the concentration of the other lysolipid. The characteristics of the lysophospholipase A2 suggest the enzyme could work in concert with phospholipase A1 to release arachidonic and linoeic acids for further metabolism. The properties of lysophospholipase A2 and A1 suggest that they are different enzymes.

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