Selective Solubilization of a Protein Component of the Red Cell Membrane

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Science  12 Jan 1968:
Vol. 159, Issue 3811, pp. 203-204
DOI: 10.1126/science.159.3811.203


Approximately 20 percent of the membrane-bound protein of erythrocyte ghosts can be solubilized and obtained free of other membrane components by dialysis against adenosine triphosphate and 2-mercaptoethanol. This protein forms one major band on polyacrylamide gels and a single boundary in free-boundary electrophoresis, and it undergoes polymerization in the presence of divalent cations to form coiled filaments visible by electron microscopy. Antibodies to this membrane protein react specifically with red blood cells or their membrane ghosts but do not react with serum, erythrocyte cytoplasm, or other blood cells. The functional role of this protein is unknown, but it appears to be involved in maintaiining the structure of the red cell membrane. We suggest that this protein be called Spectrin since it is obtained from membrane ghosts.

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