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Biochemistry. 1985 Jun 4;24(12):2849-57.

Membrane bilayer balance and erythrocyte shape: a quantitative assessment.


When human erythrocytes are incubated with certain phospholipids, the cells become spiculate echinocytes, resembling red cells subjected to metabolic starvation or Ca2+ loading. The present study examines (1) the mode of binding of saturated phosphatidylcholines and egg lysophosphatidylcholine to erythrocytes and (2) the quantitative relationship between phospholipid incorporation and red cell shape. We find that the phospholipids studied become intercalated into erythrocyte membranes, not simply adsorbed to the cell surface. Spin-labeling and radiolabeling data show that the incorporation of (4 +/- 1) X 10(6) molecules of exogenous phosphatidylcholine per cell converts discocytes to stage 3 echinocytes with about 35 conical spicules. This amount of lipid incorporation is estimated to expand the red cell membrane outer monolayer by 1.7% +/- 0.6%. Calculations of the inner and outer monolayer surface areas of model discocytes and stage 3 echinocytes yield an estimated difference of 0.7% +/- 0.2%.

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