Phospholipid asymmetry during erythrocyte deformation: maintenance of the unit membrane

Takashi Sugihara, Keiko Sugihara, Robert P Hebbel

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9 Scopus citations


To assess the red blood cell (RBC) membrane's ability to maintain normal phospholipid orientation in the face of deforming stress, we examined RBC subjected to elliptical, tank-treading deformation. As determined by accessibility to phospholipase digestion and by labeling with fluorescamine, normal RBC are able to fully preserve their phospholipid asymmetry despite attaining over 96% of their maximal possible deformation. Phospholipid orientation is unchanged during deformation even for RBC that are ATP-depleted or vamadate-treated and for RBC that already have destabilized phospholipids due to treatment with t-butyl hydroperoxide. These data indicate that maintenance of phospholipid organization during marked deforming stress and tank-treading motion of the membrane is ascribable predominantly to the passive stabilizing effect of membrane proteins. This provides additional evidence for the concept of a unit membrane characterized by intimate associations between lipid and protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-306
Number of pages4
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 31 1992

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the National Institutes of Health (H1_30160 and HL37528) and the Minnesota Medical Foundation. We thank Carol Taubert for assistance in manuscript preparation.


  • Aminophospholipid
  • Erythrocyte deformation
  • Erythrocyte membrane
  • Phospholipid asymmetry
  • Sickle cell
  • t-Butyl hydroperoxide


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