Tropomodulin 1-null mice have a mild spherocytic elliptocytosis with appearance of tropomodulin 3 in red blood cells and disruption of the membrane skeleton.

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Anemia, Animals, Cytoskeleton, Cytosol, Erythrocytes, Erythrocytes-Abnormal, Gene-Knockout-Techniques, Mice, Microfilaments, Osmotic-Fragility, Tropomodulin

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Blood 2010 Oct; 116(14):2590-9.


The short actin filaments in the red blood cell (RBC) membrane skeleton are capped at their pointed ends by tropomodulin 1 (Tmod1) and coated with tropomyosin (TM) along their length. Tmod1-TM control of actin filament length is hypothesized to regulate spectrin-actin lattice organization and membrane stability. We used a Tmod1 knockout mouse to investigate the in vivo role of Tmod1 in the RBC membrane skeleton. Western blots of Tmod1-null RBCs confirm the absence of Tmod1 and show the presence of Tmod3, which is normally not present in RBCs. Tmod3 is present at only one-fifth levels of Tmod1 present on wild-type membranes, but levels of actin, TMs, adducins, and other membrane skeleton proteins remain unchanged. Electron microscopy shows that actin filament lengths are more variable with spectrin-actin lattices displaying abnormally large and more variable pore sizes. Tmod1-null mice display a mild anemia with features resembling hereditary spherocytic elliptocytosis, including decreased RBC mean corpuscular volume, cellular dehydration, increased osmotic fragility, reduced deformability, and heterogeneity in osmotic ektacytometry. Insufficient capping of actin filaments by Tmod3 may allow greater actin dynamics at pointed ends, resulting in filament length redistribution, leading to irregular and attenuated spectrin-actin lattice connectivity, and concomitant RBC membrane instability.