Membrane fluidity was studied by electron-spin-resonance techniques in human En(a-) erythrocytes that lack the major membrane sialoglycoprotein, glycophorin A. By using stearic acid spin labels with a doxyl group in the C-12 or C-15 positions, we demonstrated that the hydrophobic core in these cells was more fluid than in normal cells. Surface-located regions in isolated En(a-) membranes, when probed with stearic acid labelled in the C-5 position, appeared more stable than in normal membranes. In isolated En(a-) membranes, protein motion was decreased when probed with a nitroxide derivative of maleimide. After incubation with anti-(glycophorin A) antibodies protein motion and membrane fluidity were increased in normal membranes. This effect was observed also after spectrin depletion, which by itself increased protein motion but decreased membrane fluidity in the hydrophobic core of the membrane. The results show that membrane proteins influence the fluidity of membrane lipids.

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