In contrast to the wealth of information concerning membrane phospholipid asymmetry in normal human erythrocytes, very little is known about membrane phospholipid organization in pathologic erythrocytes. Since the spectrin-actin lattice, which has been suggested to play an important role in stabilizing membrane phospholipid asymmetry, is abnormal in sickled erythrocytes, we determined the effects of sickling on membrane phospholipid organization. We used two enzymatic probes: been venom phospholipase A2 and Staphylococcus aureus sphingomyelinase C, which do not penetrate the membrane and react only with phospholipids located in the outer leaflet of the bilayer. Our results suggest that the distribution of glycerophospholipids within the membrane of sickled cells is different from that in nonsickled cells. Compared with the normal erythrocyte, the outer membrane leaflet of the deoxygenated, reversibly sickled cells (RSC) and irreversibly sickled cells (ISC) was enriched in phosphatidyl ethanolamine in addition to containing phosphatidyl serine. These changes were compensated for by a decrease in phosphatidyl choline in that layer. The distribution of sphingomyelin over the two halves of the bilayer was unaffected by sickling. In contrast to ICS, where the organization of phospholipids was abnormal under both oxy and deoxy conditions, reoxygenation of RSC almost completely restored the organization of membrane phospholipids to normal. These results indicate that the process of sickling induces an abnormality in the organization of membrane phospholipids to normal. These results indicate that the process of sickling induces an abnormality in the organization of membrane lipids in RSC which become permanent in ISC.
B Lubin, D Chiu, J Bastacky, B Roelofsen, L L Van Deenen