Enucleation is the step in erythroid terminal differentiation when the nucleus is expelled from developing erythroblasts creating reticulocytes and free nuclei surrounded by plasma membrane. We have studied protein sorting during human erythroblast enucleation using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) to obtain pure populations of reticulocytes and nuclei produced by in vitro culture. Nano LC mass spectrometry was first used to determine the protein distribution profile obtained from the purified reticulocyte and extruded nuclei populations. In general cytoskeletal proteins and erythroid membrane proteins were preferentially restricted to the reticulocyte alongside key endocytic machinery and cytosolic proteins. The bulk of nuclear and ER proteins were lost with the nucleus. In contrast to the localization reported in mice, several key erythroid membrane proteins were detected in the membrane surrounding extruded nuclei, including band 3 and GPC. This distribution of key erythroid membrane and cytoskeletal proteins was confirmed using western blotting. Protein partitioning during enucleation was investigated by confocal microscopy with partitioning of cytoskeletal and membrane proteins to the reticulocyte observed to occur at a late stage of this process when the nucleus is under greatest constriction and almost completely extruded. Importantly, band 3 and CD44 were shown not to restrict specifically to the reticulocyte plasma membrane. This highlights enucleation as a stage at which excess erythroid membrane proteins are discarded in human erythroblast differentiation. Given the striking restriction of cytoskeleton proteins and the fact that membrane proteins located in macromolecular membrane complexes (e.g. GPA, Rh and RhAG) are segregated to the reticulocyte, we propose that the membrane proteins lost with the nucleus represent an excess mobile population of either individual proteins or protein complexes. © 2013 Bell et al.
Bell, A. J., Satchwell, T. J., Heesom, K. J., Hawley, B. R., Kupzig, S., Hazell, M., … Toye, A. M. (2013). Protein Distribution during Human Erythroblast Enucleation In Vitro. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060300