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IUBMB Life. 2003 Jul;55(7):375-85.

Redox reactions and electron transfer across the red cell membrane.

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School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Plasma membrane electron transport systems appear to be ubiquitous. These systems are implicated in hormone signal transduction, cell growth and differentiation events as well as protection from oxidative stress. The red blood cell is constantly exposed to oxidative stress; protection against the reactive species generated during this process may be the main role of its membrane electron transport systems. Membrane redox activity has been studied for over three-quarters of a century, and yet many questions remain regarding its identity and likely roles: are electron transfers by distinct and specific mechanisms; what are the physiological donors and acceptors; and how do these systems affect metabolism? Current evidence suggests that the human erythrocyte membrane contains a number of distinct electron transfer systems, some of which, at least, involve membrane proteins, and NADH or ascorbate as electron donors. The activity of these systems appears to be closely related to the metabolic state of the cell, suggesting that mediation of reducing equivalents across the plasma membrane allows redox buffering of each environment, intra- and extracellular, by the other. We have decided to study this from a new perspective, NMR spectroscopy the area of our own technical expertise, hence this review is slanted towards this more recent analysis.

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