The plasma membrane of the nucleated pigeon erythrocyte was isolated by a method that is simple, reproducible and minimally disruptive, the final preparation consisting of whole cell ‘ghosts’, recovered at over 40% yield. Alternative methods, which yield membrane fragments, were also tested and some of their possible disadvantages demonstrated. Analysis of the protein components of the isolated membranes by gel elctrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulphate revealed that their composition is very similar to that of the proteins of human erythrocyte membranes. However, two major proteins are unique to the nucleated cell membrane; these have apparent mol.wts. of 97000 and 57000. Also, the bands designated 4.2 (74500 mol.wt.) and 6 (35000 mol wt.) by Steck [(1974) J. Cell Biol. 62, 1-19] for the human cell membrane are absent from pigon cell membrane. Glycosylated membrane proteins could not be detected in gels stained with the periodate-Schiff-base procedure. Analysis of membrane phospholipids revealed the same components known to be present in mammalian erythrocytes, though in different proportions. These findings are discussed in the light of known physiological and biochemical differences between avian and mature mammalian erythrocytes.

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