The marginal band is a bundle of microtubules residing at the periphery of nucleated erythrocytes of nonmammalian vertebrates and some invertebrates. Marginal bands from erythrocytes of the newt (Notopthalmus viridescens) were isolated from the cells as intact structures by treatment with detergent and either mild protease or high salt. Isolated bands were subjected to mechanical testing by stretching the band between a glass microhook and a calibrated glass fiber. The deflection of the fiber provided a measure of the force on the band. The flexural rigidity of the band was determined from measurements of the band deformation as a function of applied force. Bands isolated with either of two proteases (pepsin or elastase) or with high salt exhibited elastic behavior with a flexural rigidity of approximately 9.0 X 10(-12) dyn.cm2. Treatment of bands with chymopapain caused an increase in band rigidity and inelastic behavior. Estimates of the contribution of the band to cellular rigidity are made based on the measurements of the structural properties of the isolated band. The band provides the cell with a large resistance to indentations at the rim and to large extensions, while maintaining a high degree of flexibility in small extensions or flexure.

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