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ATP8A1 activity and phosphatidylserine transbilayer movement.

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  • 1Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA, USA.


The asymmetric distribution of the amino-containing phospholipids, phosphatidyl-serine (PS) and phosphatidyl-ethanolamine (PE), across the two leaflets of red blood cell (RBC) membrane is essential to the function and survival of the cell. PS and PE are sequestered in the inner leaflet by an ATP-dependent transport activity of a membrane protein known as the RBC flippase that specifically moves amino-phospholipids from the outer to the inner leaflet. The enucleated RBC lacks the means to replace damaged enzymes and inactivation of the flippase can lead to the unwarranted exposure of PS on the cell surface. Loss in the ability to maintain phospholipid asymmetry is exacerbated in RBC disorders and PS-exposing RBCs present in the circulation play a significant role in the pathology of hemoglobinopathies. We identified the Atp8a1 protein, a member of the family of the P(4)-type ATPases, as a RBC flippase candidate. Atp8a1 is expressed in RBC precursors and is present in the membrane of mature red cells. The flippase activity of the protein was established in purified secretory vesicles of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ATPase activity was stimulated by PS and PE. In addition, Atp8a1 can move PS molecules across the leaflets of the vesicle membrane in presence of ATP.

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