A host of water-soluble enzymes are active at membrane surfaces and in association with membranes. Some of these enzymes are involved in signalling and in modification and remodelling of the membranes. A special class of enzymes, the phospholipases, and in particular secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2), are only activated at the interface between water and membrane surfaces, where they lead to a break-down of the lipid molecules into lysolipids and free fatty acids. The activation is critically dependent on the physical properties of the lipid-membrane substrate. A topical review is given of our current understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for activation of sPLA2 as derived from a range of different experimental and theoretical investigations.
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 2006, Vol 18, Issue 28