3-D nanomechanics of an erythrocyte junctional complex in equibiaxial and anisotropic deformations. Academic Article uri icon


  • The erythrocyte membrane skeleton deforms constantly in circulation, but the mechanics of a junctional complex (JC) in the network is poorly understood. We previously proposed a 3-D mechanical model for a JC (Sung, L. A., and C. Vera. Protofilament and hexagon: A three-dimensional mechanical model for the junctional complex in the erythrocyte membrane skeleton. Ann Biomed Eng 31:1314-1326, 2003) and now developed a mathematical model to compute its equilibrium by dynamic relaxation. We simulated deformations of a single unit in the network to predict the tension of 6 alphabeta spectrin (Sp) (top, middle, and bottom pairs), and the attitude of the actin protofilament [pitch (theta), yaw (phi) and roll (psi) angles]. In equibiaxial deformation, 6 Sp would not begin their first round of "single domain unfolding in cluster" until the extension ratio (lambda) reach approximately 3.6, beyond the maximal sustainable lambda of approximately 2.67. Before Sp unfolds, the protofilament would gradually raise its pointed end away from the membrane, while phi and psi remain almost unchanged. In anisotropic deformation, protofilaments would remain tangent but swing and roll drastically at least once between lambda(i) = 1.0 and approximately 2.8, in a deformation angle- and lambda(i)-dependent fashion. This newly predicted nanomechanics in response to deformations may reveal functional roles previous unseen for a JC, and molecules associated with it, during erythrocyte circulation.

published proceedings

  • Ann Biomed Eng

altmetric score

  • 8.608

author list (cited authors)

  • Vera, C., Skelton, R., Bossens, F., & Sung, L. A.

citation count

  • 56

complete list of authors

  • Vera, Carlos||Skelton, Robert||Bossens, Frederic||Sung, Lanping Amy

publication date

  • October 2005