Binding of F-actin to spectrin-actin-depleted erythrocyte membrane inside-out vesicles was measured using [3H]F-actin. F-actin binding to vesicles at 25 degrees C was stimulated 5-10 fold by addition of spectrin dimers or tetramers to vesicles. Spectrin tetramer was twice as effective as dimer in stimulating actin binding, but neither tetramer nor dimer stimulated binding at 4 degrees C. The addition of purified erythrocyte membrane protein band 4.1 to spectrin-reconstituted vesicles doubled their actin-binding capacity. Trypsinization of unreconstituted vesicles that contain < 10% of the spectrin but nearly all of the band 4.1, relative to ghosts, decreased their F-actin-binding capacity by 70%. Whereas little or none of the residual spectrin was affected by trypsinization, band 4.1 was significantly degraded. Our results show that spectrin can anchor actin filaments to the cytoplasmic surface of erythrocyte membranes and suggest that band 4.1 may be importantly involved in the association.

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