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Nature. 1985 Jan 17-23;313(5999):238-41.

Appearance of new variants of membrane skeletal protein 4.1 during terminal differentiation of avian erythroid and lenticular cells.


The erythrocyte plasma membrane is lined with a network of extrinsic proteins, mainly spectrin and actin, which constitute a reticulum tethered to the intrinsic anion transport protein of the lipid bilayer through a linker protein, ankyrin. Protein 4.1 forms a stable ternary complex with spectrin and actin, thereby strengthening the reticulum and anchoring it directly to the lipid bilayer or to another intrinsic protein, glycophorin. It has been found recently that spectrin, ankyrin and protein 4.1 are not erythrocyte-specific; this has elucidated further the mechanisms of plasma membrane assembly and modelling during the differentiation of diverse tissues. We have shown previously that protein 4.1 in chickens is most abundant in erythrocytes and lens cells, but is scarce or absent from other spectrin-rich cell types. In addition, it exists as a family of related polypeptides showing differential expression in these two tissues, suggesting variant-specific functions. Here we show that the pattern of protein 4.1 variants changes during the terminal differentiation of erythroid and lenticular cells, with novel variants appearing in postmitotic cells. The accumulation of these variants may lead to the final stabilization of the plasma membrane skeletons of these cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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