To understand how red blood cell and other proteins carry out their functions, it is necessary not only to have high-resolution crystal structures, but also to have methods that can measure changes in position of parts of the protein on the scale of Ångstroms. The method of luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET) has considerable advantages for this purpose, particularly for proteins, such as the AE1 anion exchange protein in the red cell, that are homodimers. We have applied this method, using a terbium maleimide chelate (TbM) as donor and fluorescein maleimide (FM) as acceptor, to measure the distance between the C201 residues in adjacent dimerized cytoplasmic domains of AE1 (cdAE1). The distance measured by LRET (40.8 Å) corresponds closely with that calculated from the crystal structure of the cdAE1, indicating that the method can provide useful information for testing hypotheses concerning motions in this and other blood cell proteins.
Knauf, P. A., & Pal, P. (2004). Use of luminescence resonance energy transfer to measure distances in the AE1 anion exchange protein dimer. Blood Cells, Molecules and Diseases, 32(3), 360-365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcmd.2004.01.007