Departmental Papers (CBE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

November 2004


Strong adhesion of highly active cells often nucleates focal adhesions, synapses, and related structures. Red cells lack such complex adhesion systems and are also nonmotile, but they are shown here to dynamically evolve complex spatial patterns beyond an electrostatic threshold for strong adhesion. Spreading of the cell onto a dense, homogeneous poly-L-lysine surface appears complete in <1 s with occasional blisters that form and dissipate on a similar timescale; distinct rippled or stippled patterns in fluorescently labeled membrane components emerge later, however, on timescales more typical of long-range lipid diffusion (approximately minutes). Within the contact zone, the anionic fluorescent lipid fluorescein phosphoethanolamine is seen to rearrange, forming worm-like rippled or stippled domains of <500 nm that prove independent of whether the cell is intact and sustaining a tension or ruptured. Lipid patterns are accompanied by visible perturbations in Band 3 distribution and weaker perturbations in membrane skeleton actin. Pressing down on the membrane quenches the lipid patterns, revealing a clear topographical basis for pattern formation. Counterion screening and membrane fluctuations likely contribute, but the results primarily highlight the fact that even in adhesion of a passive red cell, regions of strong contact slowly evolve to become interspersed with regions where the membrane is more distant from the surface.


Reprinted from Biophysical Journal, Volume 87, Issue 5, November 2004, pages 3547-3560.
Publisher URL:



Date Posted: 20 February 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.