The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 291–309 | Cite as

Interactions between a membrane sialoglycoprotein and planar lipid bilayers

  • M. Tieffenberg Tosteson


Bilayer membranes formed from lipids dissolved in decane were exposed to glycophorin, a sialoglycoprotein which had been extracted from human red cell membranes. The interaction with the bilayer produced an increase in the steady state electrical conductance of the membrane proportional to the amount added. Fluctuations in membrane current when the electrical potential difference was constant were observed concommitantly with this increase in membrane conductance. The minimum size of the fluctuations corresponds to a conductance of 10−10 mho. The increase in conductance as well as the current fluctuations persisted after extensive washout of the chamber containing the protein (cisside). Subsequent addition of lectins (wheat germ agglutinin and phytohemoagglutinin) to the cis-side produced rupture of the membranes, whilst these hemoagglutinins added to the trans-side failed to produce an effect. Measurements of changes in surface potential using K+ nonactin as a probe indicated that glycophorin induces a negative surface charge. At high protein concentrations, the magnitude of the induced surface potential became independent of glycophorin concentration. The maximum number of charges introduced onto the membrane under these conditions was 1.4×105/μm2. Cis (but not trans)-side addition of neuraminidase abolished these charges, indicating that they can be ascribed to the sialic acid residues that the protein bears. These results suggest that glycophorin incorporates into bilayer membranes with its N-terminal end (where the sialic acid and carbohydrates are located) facing the cis-side. Spectrin reversibly lowered the glycophorin-induced membrane conductance when added to the trans-side. Cis-side additions failed to produce an effect. Trypsin present on the trans-side irreversibly lowered the membrane conductance. These results indicate that parts of the glycophorin molecule, probably the C-terminal end, are accessible to reagents in the solution bathing the trans-side of the membrane. Thus glycophorin spans the planar bilayer in much the same way as it spans the red cell membrane.


Sialic Acid Surface Potential Wheat Germ Bilayer Membrane Wheat Germ Agglutinin 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Tieffenberg Tosteson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacological and Physiological SciencesUniversity of ChicagoChicago

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