Erythrocyte Lii-Nao countertransport system Inhibition by N-ethylmaleimide probes for a conformational change of the transport system

Rachel Levy, Avinoam Livne

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10 Scopus citations


Human erythrocytes were treated by a series of SH-reagents, including maleimides, iodo compounds, mercurials and oxidizing agents. Rates of Li efflux into Na-rich medium, Li leak and Lii-Nao countertransport were then determined. Of the 13 different reagents studied, only N-ethylmaleimide, iodoacetamide and iodoacetate inhibited selectively the countertransport activity. The effect of the various reagents indicates that the sensitive SH-groups of the countertransport system are not externally exposed. N-Ethylmaleimide was used to probe for changes elicited by substrate cations in Lii-Nao countertransport. In Na- and Li-free medium, inhibition of Lii-Nao countertransport by N-ethylmaleimide of 35% was reached within 2 s. In Na or Li medium, maximal inhibition was twice as great, but was attained much more slowly, within 10 min. Kinetic data and Hill plot analysis indicate the involvement of two classes of SH-groups: one expressed in the various media with and without substrate cations, and an additional one, which becomes specifically available to N-ethylmaleimide in the presence of external Na or Li. The affinity of Na to the site promoting inhibition by N-ethylmaleimide (apparent Km 12 mM) is higher than the affinity of Na to its external countertransport site (apparent Km 25 mM), as reported by Sarakadi, B., Alifimoff, J.K., Gunn, R.B. and Tosteson, D.C. (1978) J. Gen. Physiol. 72, 249-265). Reactivity of N-ethyl[14C]maleimide was not modified by the media tested. It is concluded that external Na and Li cause a conformational change in the protein(s) of the countertransport system in human erythrocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Nov 1984


  • (Erythrocyte membrane)
  • Counter transport
  • Li transport
  • Na transport
  • Sulfhydryl group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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