Cholesterol microcrystals associated with concanavalin A-binding glycoproteins contribute artifactually to nucleating activity assays

P. R.C. Harvey, G. A. Upadhya, S. M. Strasberg

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7 Scopus citations


Concanavalin A (Con A) affinity chromatography is the standard procedure to separate cholesterol nucleating biliary proteins from lipids and pigment. We observed that even after extensive washing following application of bile, lipid contaminants remain. We have determined the contribution of lipid contamination to cholesterol nucleation and assessed a modified procedure to remove lipids from the column. Human gallbladder bile was spiked with [3H]cholesterol and [14C]phospholipid and applied to two sets of Con A- Sepharose columns. One column was washed in the usual manner with Tris-HCl buffer and the other with buffer containing 10 mM taurocholate prior to eluting bound glycoproteins with α-D-methylmannopyranoside. Eluted proteins were added to heated abnormal bile at a final concentration of 250 μg/ml to study the effect on cholesterol nucleation. A separate aliquot (20 μl) of the protein solutions was counted for radioactivity. Cholesterol nucleating activity was less in samples from columns washed with 10 mM taurocholate than in samples from columns not washed with the bile salt. Lipid radioactivity was associated with Con A-binding proteins prepared without taurocholate, but not in those prepared with taurocholate wash. Light microscopy revealed the presence of cholesterol microcrystals and vesicles in some Con A-binding protein preparations prepared without a taurocholate wash. However, pellets from ultracentrifuged Con A preparations prepared without a bile salt wash revealed cholesterol crystals in all samples (n = 6). Washing with taurocholate did not affect recovery of protein mass and appearance of bands on SDS-PAGE gel showed an identical pattern in the two groups. This modified procedure to prepare potential nucleating proteins from gallbladder bile should eliminate erroneous results that may arise due to lipid contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2661-2669
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1995


  • biliary proteins
  • cholesterol nucleation
  • concanavalin A affinity chromatography


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