We have used freeze-etching and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to study the conditions under which the intramembrane particles of the human erythrocyte ghost may be aggregated. The fibrous membrane protein, spectrin, can be almost entirely removed from erythrocyte ghosts with little or no change in the distribution of the particles. However, after spectrin depletion, particle aggregation in the plane of the membrane may be induced by conditions which cause little aggregation in freshly prepared ghosts. This suggests that the spectrin molecules form a molecular meshwork which limits the translational mobility of the erythrocyte membrane particles.

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