One of the most intensively studied post-translational modifications of erythrocyte proteins is the phosphorylation of tyrosine residues of band 3, which is strictly regulated in vivo by PTKs (protein-tyrosine kinases) and PTPs (protein-phosphotyrosine phosphatases). Two PTKs (p72(syk) and p56/53(lyn)) and two PTP activities (PTP1B and SHPTP-2) have been immunologically identified so far in mature human erythrocytes. We have shown previously that band 3 undergoes tyrosine phosphorylation upon a decrease in cell volume, as occurs when erythrocytes treated with Ca(2+)/Ca(2+) ionophore (A23187) lose KCl and release microvesicles. Similar levels of band 3 tyrosine phosphorylation in vesicles and in the parent cells are induced by this treatment. However, we have found that tyrosine phosphorylation of band 3 in vesicles is more stable than in whole erythrocytes. Examination of how the identified PTPs and PTKs are partitioned between the vesicles and the remnant cells during vesiculation reveals that PTP1B, unlike the PTKs, is retained entirely in the parent cell compartment. Since a tight association between PTP1B and band 3 has been documented previously, we have investigated the partitioning of PTP1B and band 3 between the membrane and the membrane-skeletal fractions prepared from resting or Ca(2+)/A23187-treated cells. Our results rule out the possibility that the preferential retention of PTP1B within the cell was due to an increase in the amount of membrane-skeleton-associated band 3 (and of PTP1B) during the release of spectrin-free vesicles, suggesting a more complex modality of interaction of PTP1B with band 3 in the erythrocyte membrane. Analysis of erythrocytes of different cell ages revealed that PTP1B, unlike the other enzymes examined, was quantitatively conserved during erythrocyte aging. This suggests important roles for the down-regulation of tyrosine phosphorylation of band 3 in erythrocyte physiology, and for vesiculation as a mechanism of human erythrocyte senescence.
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