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If we wanted to study the structure of a plasma membrane, why are red blood cells a more attractive cell type to work with than other cell types such as liver cells or kidney cells?

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    $\begingroup$ Did you try to find an explanation anywhere else before asking here? Why do you think that might be the best way to harvest cell membranes? $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 12 '16 at 2:39
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse If I want to answer "If we wanted to study the structure of a plasma membrane, which of the following would be the best cell to do so?" My knee-jerk response is "It depends on what you want to know" regardless if there is an easy-to-handle option (and still, there are easier to handle options than RBCs). $\endgroup$ – James Dec 14 '16 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused Liposomes and endosomes are typically less messy when it comes to results analysis for many experiments, particularly for molecular biology. Whilst the RBCs are relatively simple cells, they still contain a lot of proteins that may interfere with your interpretation of the results. To reiterate, this depends on what you are wanting to know specifically, which the question is currently missing. After my edit, these options aren't viable since they're not complete cells, but rather bilayer models. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 14 '16 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help everyone. No, there is no explanation. I'm a junior in high school and came across this question in a biology practice book. That's all it stated, which cell would be the best for studying the structure of a plasma membrane? Only thing we have in our course is the fluid mosaic model and lipid bilayer so I guess it refers to that. The solution said RBC but didn't give any explanation, so i asked it here as I am curious to know why. $\endgroup$ – Samir Dec 16 '16 at 7:50
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    $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused I've only been involved in the biophysics end of molecular biology so I'm quite narrow minded about methods. RBCs are simple to a cell biologist, but those same cells might be too complex for a molecular biologist! $\endgroup$ – James Dec 16 '16 at 10:00
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Human RBCs are relatively simple in structure compared to the other cells in question; they contain no cell organelles (so far I knew; please correct me if there is any new theory) and therefore contain only one membrane.

RBCs do not have significant amount of extracellular matrix making them very easy to work only with the cell membrane. RBCs float in a fluidy medium (blood-plasma), so easy to collect, distribute in containers, keep into various solution. no need of maceration. Human RBCs are very uniform in shape and size, and do not divide. That makes it useful for various experiments like demonstrating plasmolysis and deplasmolysis as well as quantitative experiments on membrane biomolecules.

One classic example is Edwin Gorter and F. Grendel that first showed that cell membrane is bilayer; that is upon observation on RBC. They took known number of RBC, denatured the membrane, extracted the lipids and spread that as a lipid monolayer on water-air interface. They found that the monolayer is twice bigger than total surface area of taken RBC ! *

Source: * The Cell/ Cooper/ 4th Edition/ASM-Press and Sinauer publication.


However this is not a reference-based answer, but these are the features more than enough to make me so lazy that I would choose only RBC and flyaway from any-other option.

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    $\begingroup$ I guess this explains it to me anyway. $\endgroup$ – Samir Dec 16 '16 at 7:52

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