Non-covalent binding of avidin to biotinylated erythrocytes results in complement-dependent haemolysis. Biotinylated erythrocytes, as well as native cells, are not lysed by complement. Complement activation requires a tight contact between avidin and the erythrocyte membrane, since avidin does not in itself activate complement and does not inhibit lysis of sensitized sheep erythrocytes. The efficiency of haemolysis depends on avidin's surface density. When the avidin concentration in the reaction mixture is less than 15 micrograms/ml, erythrocyte lysis is not induced. However, the attachment of biotinylated antibodies to avidin-carrying erythrocytes decreases dramatically. Acylation of avidin with succinic anhydride strongly decreases its ability to induce complement-dependent haemolysis. However, the ability of avidin to cross-link the biotin-containing structures decreases after acylation. A 50% modification of avidin by succinic anhydride (pI about 7.0) allows preparation of ‘immunoerythrocytes’, which retain their affinity to antigen and stability in the presence of complement.

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