Serial section electron microscopy of hemolysing erythrocytes (fixed at 12 s after the onset of osmotic hemolysis) revealed long slits and holes in the membrane, extending to around 1 µm in length. Many but not all of the slits and holes (about 100–1000 Å wide) were confluent with one another. Ferritin and colloidal gold (added after fixation) only permeated those cells containing membrane defects. No such large holes or slits were seen in saponin-treated erythrocytes, and the membrane was highly invaginated, giving the ghost a scalloped outline. Freeze-etch electron microscopy of saponin-treated membranes revealed 40–50 Å-wide pits in the extracellular surface of the membrane. If these pits represent regions from which cholesterol was extracted, then cholesterol is uniformly distributed over the entire erythrocyte membrane.

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