Calmodulin-free ghost membranes were prepared from erythrocytes of kwashiorkor children and from healthy children in the same age bracket. In the absence of calmodulin, the specific activity of Mg2+-dependent Ca2+-pumping ATPase (Ca2++Mg2+-ATPase) of kwashiorkor membranes was more than 40 percent lower than the specific activity of the normal enzymes, whose maximum velocity was increased by at least four-fold by the modulator protein. In constrast, the maximum velocity of the enzymes of kwashiorkor membranes was enhanced by calmodulin by about 11/2 times the basal activity of the normal enzymes and by 2 times the basal activity of the kwashiorkor enzymes. The affinity of the pump for ATP was lower in the membranes of kwashiorkor children (Km for ATP=30.6±2.8 μM ATP) in comparison to normal membranes (Km for ATP=21.7±2.0 μM ATP). Similarly, calmodulin-affinity of the enzymes, was lower in kwashiorkor membranes than in the normal membranes irrespective of source of calmodulin. Calmodulin from haemolysates of kwashiorkor red cells activated the enzymes of normal and kwashiorkor membranes to the same degree as calmodulin partially purified from the haemolysate of healthy children. A determination of the dependence of the activity of the pump on calcium in the absence and presence of calmodulin reveals that the affinity of the kwashiorkor enzymes for Ca2+ is at least 70 percent lower than that of enzymes of normal membranes. Altogether, these findings suggest that the Ca2+-pumping ATPase of kwashiorkor membranes is less functional than the enzymes of healthy erythrocytes.

This content is only available as a PDF.