Previous studies have established that human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (Hep G2) secrete into serum-free medium the pro form of apolipoprotein A-I (proapo-A-I) suggesting that its conversion to mature apo-A-I occurs after secretion. In order to assess the mode and site of proapo-A-I to apo-A-I conversion, we incubated the medium from [3H]proline-labeled Hep G2 cells with either human plasma, serum, lymph, or fractions thereof obtained by density gradient ultracentrifugation. The conversion was monitored by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and by Edman degradation. Human plasma, serum, or mesenteric lymph all induced proapo-A-I to apo-A-I conversion; this was time dependent, unaffected by the serine protease inhibitor phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride and inhibited by EDTA. Purified radiolabeled proapo-A-I bound to lymph chylomicrons and plasma high density lipoproteins. The converting enzyme was associated with both of these particles. Activity was also found in the d > 1.21-g/ml fraction and may have been derived from high density lipoprotein after displacement by high salts and/or ultracentrifugal force. We conclude that the conversion of proapo-A-I to apo-A-I occurs extracellularly and is probably effected by a metallo-enzyme which may act at the amphiphilic surface of either chylomicrons or high density lipoproteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11430-11433
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1983


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