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Nature. 1979 Sep 13;281(5727):155-7.

Interaction of C-reactive protein with artificial phosphatidylcholine bilayers.


C-Reactive protein (CRP), the most characteristic of the 'acute phase proteins' (ref. 1) is thought to participate in the mediation and/or modulation of acute inflammatory processes, but its exact function is unknown. CRP has a Ca2+-dependent binding specificity for phosphorylcholine, the polar head group of two widely distributed lipids, lecithin (phosphatidylcholine, PC) and sphingomyelin (SM). A number of observations suggest that at least some of the biological activities of CRP depend on its interaction with phospholipids of cell membranes. In addition, interaction of CRP with PC- and SM-containing lipid dispersions and with PC-containing liposomes can activate the complement system. We report here that binding of CRP to model membranes of PC requires the incorporation into the bilayer of lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). Thus, a disturbance of the molecular organisation of the bilayer appears to be necessary for binding of CRP. These findings provide a possible biochemical explanation for binding of CRP to damaged but not intact cell membranes and might be relevant to its biological function.

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