A small hydrophobic domain in isolated human erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase is responsible for the interaction of this enzyme with detergent micelles and the aggregation of the enzyme on removal of detergent. Papain has been shown to cleave this hydrophobic domain and to generate a fully active hydrophilic enzyme that shows no tendency to interact with detergents or to aggregate [Dutta-Choudhury, T. A., & Rosenberry, T. L. (1984) J. Biol. Chem. 259, 5653-5660]. We report here that the intact enzyme could be reconstituted into phospholipid liposomes while the papain-disaggregated enzyme showed no capacity for reconstitutioh. More than 80% of the enzyme reconstituted into shiall liposomes could be released by papain digestion as the hydrophilic form. Papain was less effective in releasing the enzyme from large liposomes that were probably multilamellar. In a novel application of affinity chromatography on acridinium resin, enzyme reconstituted into small liposomes in the presence of excess phospholipid was purified to a level of 1 enzyme molecule per 4000 phospholipid molecules, a ratio expected if each enzyme molecule was associated with a small, unilamellar liposome. Subunits in the hydrophilic enzyme form released from reconstituted liposomes by papain digestion showed a mass decrease of about 2 kilodaltorts relative to the intact subunits according to acrylamide gel electrophoresis in sodium dodecyl sulfate, a difference similar to that observed previously following papain digestion of the soluble enzyme aggregates. The data were consistent with the hypothesis that the same hydrophobic domain in the enzyme is responsible for the interaction of the enzyme with detergent micelles, the aggregation of the enzyme in the absence of detergent, and the incorporation of the enzyme into reconstituted phospholipid membranes.
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