Isolation and partial characterization of antibody- and globin-enriched complexes from membranes of dense human erythrocytes

R. Kannan, J. Yuan, P. S. Low

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68 Scopus citations


In previous studies we have described a process whereby an erythrocyte in biochemical distress can initiate its own removal by macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system. This process involves the clustering of the integral membrane protein band 3 by denatured haemoglobin and the subsequent recognition of the exofacial poles of clustered band 3 and associated proteins by autologous antibodies. To determine whether this clearance pathway might mediate normal cell turnover, the fraction of normal erythrocytes containing the 0.5% densest cells, which are known to be destined for immediate removal, was isolated and characterized biochemically. This densest fraction was found to contain 6 times more membrane-bound globin (haemichromes) and 10 times more surface-bound autologous IgG than the other fractions containing cells of lower density. To determine whether the autologous IgG was physically associated with the haemichrome-stabilized membrane protein clusters, a procedure was developed for isolation and characterization of the microscopic aggregates. The isolated aggregates were found to contain a disulphide-cross-linked mixture of several membrane proteins, predominantly haemichromes, spectrin and band 3. Although the aggregates constituted only 0.09% of the total membrane protein, they still contained ~55% of the total cell-surface IgG. Since in control studies anti-(blood group A) antibodies, which are distributed randomly over the surface of type A cells, could not be recovered in the aggregate, we conclude that the autologous cell-surface IgGs were physically associated with the membrane protein clusters when they were co-isolated with them inour procedure. Thus the 640-fold enrichment of autologous IgG in the aggregates compared with regions of the membrane devoid of tightly clustered protein suggests that sites of integral protein clustering either are nonspecifically sticky to IgG or are viewed as foreign or 'non-self' by the immune system and aggressively opsonized with IgG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-62
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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