In an effort to evaluate the role of the band 3-ankyrin linkage in maintenance of red blood cell membrane integrity, solution conditions were sought that would selectively dissociate the band 3-ankyrin linkage, leaving other membrane skeletal interactions intact. For this purpose erythrocytes were equilibrated overnight in nutrient-containing buffers at a range of elevated pHs and then examined for changes in mechanical stability and membrane skeletal composition. Band 3 was found to be released from interaction with the membrane skeleton over a pH range (8.4 to 9.5) that was observed to dissociate the band 3-ankyrin interaction in vitro. In contrast, all other membrane skeletal associations appeared to remain intact up to pH 9.3, after which they were also seen to dissociate. Whereas hemolysis of mechanically unstressed cells did not begin until ∼pH 9.3, where the membrane skeletons began to disintegrate, enhanced fragmentation of shear stressed membranes was seen to begin near pH 8, where band 3 dissociation was first observed. Furthermore, the shear-induced fragmentation rate was found to reach a maximum at pH 9.4, ie, where band 3 dissociation was essentially complete. Based on these correlations, we hypothesize that the band 3-ankyrin linkage of the membrane skeleton to the lipid bilayer is essential for red blood cell stability in the face of mechanical distortion but not for cellular integrity in the absence of mechanical stress.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology