Apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) is the major protein constituent of high density lipoprotein (HDL) and plays a central role in phospholipid and cholesterol metabolism. This 243-residue long protein is remarkably flexible and assumes numerous lipiddependent conformations. Consequently, definitive structural determination of lipid-free apoA-I in solution has been difficult. Using electron paramagnetic spectroscopy of site-directed spin labels in the N-terminal domain of apoA-I (residues 1-98) we have mapped a mixture of secondary structural elements, the composition of which is consistent with findings from other insolution methods. Based on side chain mobility and their accessibility to polar and non-polar spin relaxers, the precise location of secondary elements for amino acids 14-98 was determined for both lipid-free and lipid-bound apoA-I. Based on intermolecular dipolar coupling at positions 26, 44, and 64, these secondary structural elements were arranged into a tertiary fold to generate a structural model for lipid-free apoA-I in solution.
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