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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Oct 13;106(41):17413-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909296106. Epub 2009 Sep 28.

Resolving the distinct stages in erythroid differentiation based on dynamic changes in membrane protein expression during erythropoiesis.

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  • 1Red Cell Physiology Laboratory, New York Blood Center, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Erythropoiesis is the process by which nucleated erythroid progenitors proliferate and differentiate to generate, every second, millions of nonnucleated red cells with their unique discoid shape and membrane material properties. Here we examined the time course of appearance of individual membrane protein components during murine erythropoiesis to throw new light on our understanding of the evolution of the unique features of the red cell membrane. We found that the accumulation of all of the major transmembrane and all skeletal proteins of the mature red blood cell, except actin, accrued progressively during terminal erythroid differentiation. At the same time, and in marked contrast, accumulation of various adhesion molecules decreased. In particular, the adhesion molecule, CD44 exhibited a progressive and dramatic decrease from proerythroblast to reticulocyte; this enabled us to devise a new strategy for distinguishing unambiguously between erythroblasts at successive developmental stages. These findings provide unique insights into the genesis of red cell membrane function during erythroblast differentiation and also offer a means of defining stage-specific defects in erythroid maturation in inherited and acquired red cell disorders and in bone marrow failure syndromes.

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