Publication: Native supramolecular protein complexes in pulmonary surfactant: Evidences for SP-A/SP-B interactions
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Pulmonary surfactant is a lipid-protein complex which coats lung alveoli. It displays the essential function of reducing surface tension at the air-liquid interface, avoiding alveolar collapse during expiration. The optimized biophysical properties of surfactant rely on its defined composition, constituted mainly by phospholipids and tiny amounts of lipid-associated specific proteins. Due to the highly hydrophobic nature of surfactant, organic solvents have been traditionally employed to obtain and characterize surfactant lipids and proteins, very likely leading to disruption of native interactions among its components. In the present work we have addressed the search of native protein complexes in pulmonary surfactant, which could have an essential role in the optimal function of the system. By solubilizing native lipid-protein membranes of surfactant with non-denaturing detergents, and with the use of a two-dimensional electrophoresis strategy, we have been able to detect the presence of supramolecular complexes composed of surfactant proteins SP-A, SP-B and SP-C. Furthermore, by co-immunoprecipitation assays, we have confirmed for the first time the existence of a direct interaction between SP-A and SP-B, an important feature which could explain the known functional cooperation of both proteins in several aspects of surfactant biology.