Vesicles and cell remnants have been obtained by aging of erythrocytes in vitro. The vesicles lacking the membrane skeletal proteins and the remnants known to possess a rigid skeleton have been used to assess the role of membrane skeletal proteins in the process of Con A (concanavalin A)-mediated agglutination of erythrocytes. Both the vesicles and the remnants were found to bind Con A at the same density as did intact cells. The vesicles, isolated from normal as well as from the Con A-agglutinable trypsin- and Pronase-treated cells, failed to agglutinate with Con A. They were, however, well agglutinated by WGA (wheat-germ agglutinin) and RCA [Ricinus communis (castor bean) agglutinin], indicating that the vesicles are not defective in agglutination. Large, cytoskeleton-free, vesicles prepared by another procedure also gave the same results. The aged remnants from trypsin- and Pronase-treated erythrocytes showed significantly decreased agglutination with Con A, but were agglutinated as well as the fresh cells by WGA and RCA. The agglutination with Con A is thus abolished when the membrane skeleton is absent, and reduced when it is rigid, suggesting that the skeleton may play an important role in the agglutination of erythrocytes by Con A.

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