Reassociation of spectrin and actin with human erythrocyte membranes was studied by stereoscopic electron microscopy of thin sections combined with tannic acid- glutaraldehyde fixation. Treatment of the erythrocyte membrane with 0.1 mM EDTA (pH 8.0) extracted more than 90 percent of the spectrin and actin and concomitantly removed filamentous meshworks underlying the membranes, followed by fragmentation into small inside-out vesicles. When such spectrin-depleted vesicles were incubated with the EDTA extract (crude spectrin), a filamentous meshwork, similar to those of the original membranes, was reformed on the cytoplasmic surface of the vesicles. The filamentous components, with a uniform thickness of 9 nm, took a tortuous course and joined one another often in an end-to-end fashion to form a irregular but continuous meshwork parallel to the membrane. Purified spectrin was also reassociated with the vesicles in a population density of filamentous components almost comparable to that of the crude spectrin-reassociated vesicles. However, the meshwork formation was much smaller in extent, showing many independent filamentous components closely applied to the vesicle surface. When muscle G-actin was added to the crude spectrin- or purified spectrin- reassociated vesicles under conditions which favor actin polymerization, actin filaments were seen to attach to the vesicles through the filamentous components. Two modes of association of actin filaments with the membrane were seen: end-to-membrane and side-to- membrane associations. In the end-to-membrane association, each actin filament was bound with several filamentous components exhibiting a spiderlike configuration, which was considered to be the unit of the filamentous meshwork of the original erythrocyte membrane.

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