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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do Skeletal Dynamics Mediate Sugar Uptake and Transport in Human Erythrocytes?

  • Author(s): Asaro, Robert J
  • Zhu, Qiang
  • Cabrales, Pedro
  • Carruthers, Anthony
  • et al.

We explore, herein, the hypothesis that transport of molecules or ions into erythrocytes may be affected and directly stimulated by the dynamics of the spectrin/actin skeleton. Skeleton/actin motions are driven by thermal fluctuations that may be influenced by ATP hydrolysis as well as by structural alterations of the junctional complexes that connect the skeleton to the cell's lipid membrane. Specifically, we focus on the uptake of glucose into erythrocytes via glucose transporter 1 and on the kinetics of glucose disassociation at the endofacial side of glucose transporter 1. We argue that glucose disassociation is affected by both hydrodynamic forces induced by the actin/spectrin skeleton and by probable contact of the swinging 37-nm-long F-actin protofilament with glucose, an effect we dub the "stickball effect." Our hypothesis and results are interpreted within the framework of the kinetic measurements and compartmental kinetic models of Carruthers and co-workers; these experimental results and models describe glucose disassociation as the "slow step" (i.e., rate-limiting step) in the uptake process. Our hypothesis is further supported by direct simulations of skeleton-enhanced transport using our molecular-based models for the actin/spectrin skeleton as well as by experimental measurements of glucose uptake into cells subject to shear deformations, which demonstrate the hydrodynamic effects of advection. Our simulations have, in fact, previously demonstrated enhanced skeletal dynamics in cells in shear deformations, as they occur naturally within the skeleton, which is an effect also supported by experimental observations.

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