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Journal Article

Effects of pronase on passive ion permeability of the human red blood cell


Passow,  Hermann
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;
II. Physiologisches Institut der Universität des Saarlandes, D-6650, Homburg (Saar), Germany;

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Passow, H. (1971). Effects of pronase on passive ion permeability of the human red blood cell. Journal of Membrane Biology, 6(3), 233-258. doi:10.1007/BF01872279.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-AF90-0
The effects of pronase fromStreptomyces griseus on sulfate, potassium, sodium, and erythritol permeability of human red blood cells were studied. It was found that the proteolytic enzyme reduces anion permeability, increases cation permeability and has no effect on the nonfacilitated component of the flux of the nonelectrolyte. These findings can be explained on the basis of the fixed charge hypothesis by the assumption that the enzyme exerts its effects by altering the density of positive fixed charges in the membrane.

The effects of pronase are qualitatively similar to those of the amino reactive agent, dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB). Therefore, attempts were made to discover if this similarity is due to alterations of the same membrane sites by the enzyme and the chemical modifier. It was found that the effects of pronase and DNFB were not additive. Hence, the enzyme and the amino reactive agent do not seem to act on two independent and parallel channels. A more detailed analysis of the data suggests that DNFB and pronase affect functionally identical sites.

Proteolytic enzymes frequently exhibit some esterase activity. However, the amino-N content of lipid extracts of red cell membranes remained virtually unaltered after exposure of the cells to pronase. This finding indicates that the positive charge of the bulk of the lipid amino groups is not involved in the control of passive ion permeability. The carbohydrate amino groups of the red cell membrane are N-acylated and hence cannot contribute to the positive membrane charge. It seems reasonable to conclude that the effects of pronase on ion permeability are primarily due to alterations of the density of charged protein amino groups in the red cell membrane.