Scientific reports

Contribution of plasma membrane lipid domains to red blood cell (re)shaping.

PMID 28655935


Although lipid domains have been evidenced in several living cell plasma membranes, their roles remain largely unclear. We here investigated whether they could contribute to function-associated cell (re)shaping. To address this question, we used erythrocytes as cellular model since they (i) exhibit a specific biconcave shape, allowing for reversible deformation in blood circulation, which is lost by membrane vesiculation upon aging; and (ii) display at their outer plasma membrane leaflet two types of submicrometric domains differently enriched in cholesterol and sphingomyelin. We here reveal the specific association of cholesterol- and sphingomyelin-enriched domains with distinct curvature areas of the erythrocyte biconcave membrane. Upon erythrocyte deformation, cholesterol-enriched domains gathered in high curvature areas. In contrast, sphingomyelin-enriched domains increased in abundance upon calcium efflux during shape restoration. Upon erythrocyte storage at 4 °C (to mimick aging), lipid domains appeared as specific vesiculation sites. Altogether, our data indicate that lipid domains could contribute to erythrocyte function-associated (re)shaping.