Fusion of erythrocyte ghosts induced by calcium phosphate. Kinetic characteristics and the role of Ca2+, phosphate and calcium-phosphate complexes

Dick Hoekstra*, Jan Wilschut, Gerrit Scherphof

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Using an assay which allows continuous monitoring of the mixing of aqueous contents during membrane fusion, we have investigated the kinetics of calcium-phosphate-induced fusion of erythrocyte ghosts. In the presence of 10 mM phosphate, the threshold concentration for Ca2+-induced fusion was 1.25 mM, while the optimal concentration was approx. 1.75 mM Ca2+. Further enhancement of the cation concentration (greater than or equal to 2 mM) inhibited fusion of the ghosts. Initiation of fusion required the addition of phosphate prior to the addition of Ca2+, indicating that the combined interaction of Ca2+ and phosphate in or at the plane of the bilayer was a prerequisite for the induction of fusion. Furthermore, fusion was greatly facilitated upon transformation of calcium phosphate in the bulk medium from an amorphous to a solid, crystalline phase. It is suggested that membrane aggregation, and hence fusion, is facilitated by the formation of crystalline calcium phosphate nucleating on the ghost membrane. La3+, Mg2+ and Mn2+ did not trigger the fusion process, although aggregation of the ghosts did occur. Under conditions where calcium phosphate precipitation was inhibited, lanthanum phosphate precipitates facilitated fusion after prior treatment of ghosts with phosphate and Ca2+. These results indicated that fusion-prone conditions were induced prior to calcium phosphate precipitation. It is proposed that prior to calcium phosphate precipitation membrane changes are induced by separate interaction of Ca2+ and phosphate with the ghost membrane. Such an interaction could then render the ghosts susceptible to fusion and as soon as conditions are provided allowing close contact between adjacent membranes, fusion will be observed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-140
    Number of pages10
    JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1985

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