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Intact erythrocytes become immediately crenated upon addition of 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) or pyrenebutyric acid (PBA). However, when cells are incubated at 37°C in the presence of the crenating agents with glucose, they gradually (4-8 h) recover the normal biconcave disc form. The recovery process does not reflect a gradual inactivation of DNP or PBA since fresh cells are equally crenated by the supernatant from the recovered cells. Further, after recovery and removal of the crenating agents, cells are found to be desensitized to the readdition of DNP as well as to the addition of PBA, but they are more sensitive to cupping by chlorpromazine. This alteration in the cell membrane responsiveness was reversible upon further incubation in the absence of DNP. Recovery is dependent upon cellular metabolic state since an energy source is needed and incubation with guanosine but not adenosine will accelerate conversion to the disc shape. It is suggested that the conversion of cells from crenated to disc shape in the presence of the crenators, represents an alteration or rearrangement of membrane components rather than a redistribution of the crenators within the membrane. This shape recovery process may be important for erythrocyte shape preservation as well as shape control in other cells.
The Journal of Cell Biology