Inhibition of suicidal erythrocyte death by blebbistatin Academic Article uri icon

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  • Blebbistatin, a myosin II inhibitor, interferes with myosin-actin interaction and microtubule assembly. By influencing cytoskeletal dynamics blebbistatin counteracts apoptosis of several types of nucleated cells. Even though lacking nuclei and mitochondria, erythrocytes may undergo suicidal cell death or eryptosis, which is characterized by cell shrinkage and cell membrane scrambling with phosphatidylserine exposure at the cell surface. Triggers of eryptosis include energy depletion and osmotic shock, which enhance cytosolic Ca2+activity with subsequent Ca2+-sensitive cell shrinkage and cell membrane scrambling. The present study explored the effect of blebbistatin on eryptosis. Cell membrane scrambling was estimated from binding of annexin V to phosphatidylserine at the erythrocyte surface, cell volume from forward scatter in fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis and cytosolic Ca2+concentration from Fluo3 fluorescence. Exposure to blebbistatin on its own (1–50 μM) did not significantly modify cytosolic Ca2+concentration, forward scatter, or annexin V binding. Glucose depletion (48 h) was followed by a significant increase of Fluo3 fluorescence and annexin V binding, effects significantly blunted by blebbistatin (Fluo3 fluorescence ≥ 25 μM, annexin V binding ≥ 10 μM). Osmotic shock (addition of 550 mM sucrose) again significantly increased Fluo3 fluorescence and annexin binding, effects again significantly blunted by blebbistatin (Fluo3 fluorescence ≥ 25 μM, annexin V binding ≥ 25 μM). The present observations disclose a novel effect of blebbistatin, i.e., an influence on Ca2+entry and suicidal erythrocyte death following energy depletion and osmotic shock.


  • Lang, Elisabeth
  • Qadri, Syed
  • Zelenak, Christine
  • Gu, Shuchen
  • Rotte, Anand
  • Draeger, Annette
  • Lang, Florian

publication date

  • August 2011

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