Apolipoprotein H (ApoH) is a plasma glycoprotein isolated from human serum. The interactions of ApoH with lipid membrane were reported to be essential for its physiological and pathogenic roles. In this paper we studied the ability of ApoH to insert into phospholipid membranes using the monolayer approach. The results show that ApoH is surface active and can insert into the lipid monolayers. The insertion ability of ApoH is stronger when a higher content of negatively charged lipids is present in the membrane. The acidic-pH and low-ionic-strength conditions will also enhance ApoH insertion, but these factors may not have much influence on the final insertion ability of ApoH, suggesting that, in the mechanism of ApoH insertion, not only electrostatic forces, but also hydrophobic interactions, are evidently involved. Modification by heat inactivation and reduction/alkylation does not change the critical insertion pressure (πc) of ApoH, suggesting a stable domain, maybe a linear sequence motif, but not the native three-dimensional structure of ApoH, is responsible for its insertion. The extent to which insertion of ApoH into phospholipid membranes may facilitate the ‘immune cleaning ’ of plasma liposomes is discussed.

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