Ferritin and colloidal gold were found to permeate human erythrocytes during rapid or gradual hypotonic hemolysis. Only hemolysed cells contained these particles; adjacent intact cells did not contain the tracers. Ferritin or gold added 3 min after the onset of hypotonic hemolysis did not permeate the ghost cells which had, therefore, become transiently permeable. By adding ferritin at various times after the onset of hemolysis, it was determined that for the majority of the cells the permeable state (or interval between the time of development and closure of membrane holes) existed only from about 15 to 25 sec after the onset of hemolysis. It was possible to fix the transient "holes" in the open position by adding glutaraldehyde only between 10 and 20 sec after the onset of hemolysis. The existence of such fixed holes was shown by the cell entry of ferritin and gold which were added to these prefixed cells. Membrane defects or discontinuities (of the order of 200–500 A wide) were observed only in prefixed cells which were permeated by ferritin subsequently added. Adjacent prefixed cells which did not become permeated by added ferritin did not reveal any membrane discontinuities. Glutaraldehyde does not per se induce or create such membrane defects since cells which had been fixed by glutaraldehyde before the 10-sec time point or after the 180-sec time point were never permeable to added ferritin, and the cell membranes never contained any defects. It was also observed that early in hemolysis (7–12 sec) a small bulge in one zone of the membrane often occurred. Ghost cells produced by holothurin A (a saponin) and fixed by glutaraldehyde became permeated by ferritin subsequently added, but no membrane discontinuities were seen. Ghosts produced by lysolecithin and fixed by glutaraldehyde also became permeated by subsequently added ferritin, and many membrane defects were seen here (about 300 A wide).

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