Lateral mobility of integral proteins in red blood cell tethers.
The red blood cell membrane is a complex material that exhibits both solid- and liquidlike behavior. It is distinguished from a simple lipid bilayer capsule by its mechanical properties, particularly its shear viscoelastic behavior and by the long-range mobility of integral proteins on the membrane surface. Subject to sufficiently large extension, the membrane loses its shear rigidity and flows as a two-dimensional fluid. These experiments examine the change in integral protein mobility that accompanies the mechanical phenomenon of extensional failure and liquidlike flow. A flow channel apparatus is used to create red cell tethers, hollow cylinders of greatly deformed membrane, up to 36-microns long. The diffusion of proteins within the surface of the membrane is measured by the technique of fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching (FRAP). Integral membrane proteins are labeled directly with a fluorescein dye (DTAF). Mobility in normal membrane is measured by photobleaching half of the cell and measuring the rate of fluorescence recovery. Protein mobility in tether membrane is calculated from the fluorescence recovery rate after the entire tether has been bleached. Fluorescence recovery rates for normal membrane indicate that more than half the labeled proteins are mobile with a diffusion coefficient of approximately 4 x 10(-11) cm2/s, in agreement with results from other studies. The diffusion coefficient for proteins in tether membrane is greater than 1.5 x 10(-9) cm2/s. This dramatic increase in diffusion coefficient indicates that extensional failure involves the uncoupling of the lipid bilayer from the membrane skeleton.
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