The rotational flexibility of the cytoplasmic domain of band 3, in the region that is proximal to the inner membrane surface, has been investigated using a combination of time-resolved optical anisotropy (TOA) and saturation-transfer electron paramagnetic resonance (ST-EPR) spectroscopies. TOA studies of rotational diffusion of the transmembrane domain of band 3 show a dramatic decrease in residual anisotropy following cleavage of the link with the cytoplasmic domain by trypsin (E. A. Nigg and R. J. Cherry, 1980, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 77:4702-4706). This result is compatible with two independent hypotheses: 1) trypsin cleavage leads to dissociation of large clusters of band 3 that are immobile on the millisecond time scale, or 2) trypsin cleavage leads to release of a constraint to uniaxial rotational diffusion of the transmembrane domain. ST-EPR studies at X- and Q-band microwave frequencies detect rotational diffusion of the transmembrane domain of band 3 about the membrane normal axis of reasonably large amplitude that does not change upon cleavage with trypsin. These ST-EPR results are not consistent with dissociation of clusters of band 3 as a result of cleavage with trypsin. Global analyses of the ST-EPR data using a newly developed algorithm indicate that any constraint to rotational diffusion of the transmembrane domain of band 3 via interactions of the cytoplasmic domain with the membrane skeleton must be sufficiently weak to allow rotational excursions in excess of 32° full-width for a square-well potential. In support of this result, analyses of the TOA data in terms of restricted amplitude uniaxial rotational diffusion models suggest that the membrane-spanning domain of that population of band 3 that is linked to the membrane skeleton is constrained to diffuse in a square-well of ∼73° full-width. This degree of flexibility may be necessary for providing the unique mechanical properties of the erythrocyte membrane.
Blackman, S. M., Hustedt, E. J., Cobb, C. E., & Beth, A. H. (2001). Flexibility of the cytoplasmic domain of the anion exchange protein, band 3, in human erythrocytes. Biophysical Journal, 81(6), 3363–3376. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(01)75969-3