Crosslinking of isolated cytoskeletal proteins with hemoglobin: a possible damage inflicted to the red cell membrane

Nurith Shaklai, Betty Frayman, Normand Fortier, Michael Snyder

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Crosslinking of isolated red cell membrane cytoskeletal proteins and hemoglobin mediated by H2O2 was studied. The products of spectrin and hemoglobin interaction were demonstrated electrophoretically to be high-molecular-weight polypeptides crosslinked by nondisulfide covalent bonds. The molecular weight of the protein bands correlated with various combinations of spectrin and hemoglobin chains and the relative amount of the different products was dependent on the molar ratio of the interacting proteins. Free hemin caused spectrin crosslinking as well, but globin in the absence of hemin was inactive. Since the H2O2-mediated reaction resulted in reduction of the spectrin tryptophan fluorescence, the latter was used to monitor the reaction progress under various conditions. Both oxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin were found to be most efficient, whereas cyanmethemoglobin and hemichrome were relatively inactive. Analysis of the data implied that tryptophan oxidation as well as spectrin conformational changes follow an iron-induced crosslinking of the interacting proteins. Actin, the second major protein in the red cell cytoskeleton, behaved similarly to spectrin. The intrinsic fluorescence intensity of both G- and F-actin was decreased upon addition of H2O2 to the mixture of hemoglobin and each of the actin forms. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis revealed that G-actin crosslinked one or two hemoglobin chains. F-actin-hemoglobin interaction induced by H2O2 produced very high aggregates that could not penetrate the gel. It is suggested that crosslinking of cytoskeletal proteins in red cells containing membrane-associated hemoglobin provides a rationale for the loss of membrane flexibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-414
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Oct 1987


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Erythrocyte membrane
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Protein crosslinking


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