Characterization of the reversible conformational equilibrium of the cytoplasmic domain of erythrocyte membrane band 3

P. S. Low, M. A. Westfall, D. P. Allen, K. C. Appell

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75 Scopus citations


The cytoplasmic domain of the erythrocyte membrane protein, band 3, contains binding sites for hemoglobin, several glycolytic enzymes, and ankyrin, the linkage to the cytoskeleton. In an earlier study, we found evidence which suggested that band 3 might undergo a native conformational change. We demonstrate here that the cytoplasmic domain of band 3 does exist in a reversible, pH-dependent conformational equilibrium among 3 native states. At physiological salt concentrations this equilibrium is characterized by apparent pK(a) values of 7.2 and 9.2; however, these apparent pK(a) values change if the domain's sulfhydryl groups are modified. A major component of the structural change appears to involve the pivoting of two subdomains of the cytoplasmic domain at a central hinge, as evidenced by both hydrodynamic and fluorescence energy transfer measurements. The probable site of this hinge is between residues 176 and 191, a region highly accessible to proteases and also rich in proline. These structural rearrangements also apparently extend to the cluster of tryptophan residues near the N terminus, since the domain's intrinsic fluorescence more than doubles between pH 6.5 and 9.5 No measurable change in band 3 secondary or quaternary structure could be detected during the conformational transitions. A structural model of the cytoplasmic domain of band 3 is presented to show the possible spatial relationships between the regions of conformational change and the sites of peripheral protein binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13070-13076
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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