Using discontinuous density gradients of Stractan II, we have separated sickle cell blood into discrete subpopulations of reticulocytes, mature discoid cells, and irreversibly sickled cells (ISCs). We have measured active and passive fluxes of monovalent cations in mature discoid cells, ISCs, and normal control cells, also separated upon density gradients. These measurements revealed a decreased active cation transport in ISC-rich populations. However, parallel measurements of Na, K-ATPase activity showed normal ouabain-sensitive ATPase activity in ISCs. Passive permeability to external Rb was also normal in ISCs. The observation of depressed pump activity in intact ISCs, contrasted with normal ATPase activity in ISC membranes, suggests the presence of factors in the intact cell which inhibit the active transport of Na and K in ISCs.
M R Clark, C E Morrison, S B Shohet