Erythrocytes take up oxygen and release carbon dioxide
Species Homo sapiens
Erythrocytes circulating through the capillaries of the lung must exchange carbon dioxide (CO2) for oxygen (O2) during their short (0.5-1 sec.) transit time in pulmonary tissue (Reviewed in Jensen 2004, Esbaugh and Tufts 2006, Boron 2010). CO2 bound as carbamate to the N-terminus of hemoglobin and protons (H+) bound to histidine residues in hemoglobin are released as hemoglobin (HbA) binds O2. Bicarbonate (HCO3-) present in plasma is taken up by erythrocytes via the band3 anion exchanger (AE1, SLC4A1) and combined with H+ by carbonic anhydrases I and II (CA1/CA2) to yield water and CO2 (Reviewed by Esbaugh and Tufts 2006). CO2 is passively transported out of the erythrocyte by AQP1 and RhAG. HCO3- in plasma is also directly dehydrated by extracellular carbonic anhydrase IV (CA4) present on endothelial cells lining the capillaries in the lung.
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