Oxygen regulates the band 3-ankyrin bridge in the human erythrocyte membrane

Marko Stefanovic, Estela Puchulu-Campanella, Gayani Kodippili, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The oxygenation state of erythrocytes is known to impact several cellular processes. As the only known O2-binding protein in red blood cells, haemoglobin has been implicated in the oxygenation-mediated control of cell pathways and properties. Band 3, an integral membrane protein linked to the spectrin/actin cytoskeleton, preferentially binds deoxygenated haemoglobin at its N-terminus, and has been postulated to participate in the mechanism by which oxygenation controls cellular processes. Because the ankyrin-binding site on band 3 is located near the deoxyHb (deoxygenated haemoglobin)-binding site, we hypothesized that deoxyHb might impact the association between band 3 and the underlying erythrocyte cytoskeleton, a link that is primarily established through band 3-ankyrin bridging. In the present paper we show that deoxygenation of human erythrocytes results in displacement of ankyrin from band 3, leading to release of the spectrin/actin cytoskeleton from the membrane. This weakening of membrane-cytoskeletal interactions during brief periods of deoxygenation could prove beneficial to blood flow, but during episodes of prolonged deoxygenation, such as during sickle cell occlusive crises, could promote unwanted membrane vesiculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Band 3-ankyrin bridge
  • Deoxygenated haemoglobin (deoxyHb)
  • Erythrocyte membrane
  • Membrane mechanical properties
  • Red cell cytoskeleton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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