1. 1. "Self-digestion" of bovine erythrocyte membrane proteins was studied in isolated membrane preparations during prolonged incubation at 37 C. 2. 2. Protcase activities associated with the membrane result in progressive degradation of all main erythrocyle membrane proteins, in particular spectrin and Band 3. and formation of lower molecular weight products which have been tentatively assigned to parent molecules. 3. 3. Membrane protein "self-digestion" occurs in a broad pH range (2-11), is inhibited by increased ionic strength and by inhibitors of metalloproteases. cysteine and serine proteases. and activated by low concentrations of SDS. 4. 4. "Self-digestion" also takes place in NaOH-stripped erythrocyte membranes. 5. 5. The activity of a protease involved in the "self-digestion", of apparent molecular weight of about 35,000, was renatured after SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of erythrocyte membrane proteins.
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