We have studied the structure of the totally delipidated polypeptide (apolipoprotein B [apo B]) present in low-density serum lipoprotein in detergent (n-dodecyl octaethyleneglycol monoether) solution by electron microscopy. The protein-detergent complex appears as a rod-shaped particle, 75-80 nm long and 4.5-5.5 nm wide. The volume of this particle is consistent with the previously published composition reported by Watt and Reynolds (1980, Biochemistry 19:1593-1598) of two copies of apo B and five to six equivalent micelles of detergent. The asymmetric particle possesses a high degree of flexibility and a strong tendency to self-associate in an orderly fashion. The extent of this association is pH dependent.
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