Abstract

Protein kinase activities and membrane autophosphorylation reactions of normal and abnormal human erythrocytes were analyzed. Erythrocytes from patients with high reticulocytosis due to sickle cell anemia and other disorders (n = 13) exhibited elevated activities of total and membrane- bound cAMP-independent casein kinase and cAMP-stimulated histone kinase. Relative to normal controls (n = 10), the average total activities in these abnormal cells were increased 50% and 81%, respectively. The casein and histone kinase activities of normal and abnormal erythrocytes declined significantly with increasing age and buoyant density in Stractan density gradients. Casein kinase activity was highly correlated (r = 0.88; n = 23) with the percentage of reticulocytes in the fraction, consistent with either a progressive loss of activity in mature erythrocytes or an abrupt decline during reticulocyte maturation. The cAMP-independent and cAMP-stimulated autophosphorylation activities of isolated membranes also declined with increasing erythrocyte age. On average, the initial rate of spectrin labeling was 36% lower in ghosts from Stractan gradient bottom fractions, relative to ghosts from top fractions similarly incubated with gamma-32P-ATP. Incorporation into the “band 4.5 zone” (primarily labeling bands 4.8 and 4.9, mol wt 47,800 and 44,600) was also age- dependent. In membranes of unfractionated sickle cells, spectrin autophosphorylation was within normal limits, while 4.5 zone autophosphorylation was increased. Membranes from high reticulocytosis controls (vitamin B-12 deficiency) exhibited similar autophosphorylation patterns, suggesting that the altered autophosphorylation pattern of sickle cell membranes may be attributed to the predominance of very young cells.

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