Structural and functional properties of hemocyanin from Cyanagraea praedator, a deep-sea hydrothermal vent crab

Proteins. 2001 Dec 1;45(4):351-9. doi: 10.1002/prot.10014.


Cyanagraea praedator (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) is an endemic species of the East Pacific Rise hydrothermal vents, living in the upper part of black smoker chimneys. Because we were seeking species that have made respiratory adaptations to the hydrothermal environment, we looked at Cyanograea hemocyanin (Hc) and determined its quaternary structure and the oxygen-binding properties in relation to temperature, pH, and lactate. C. praedator Hc is composed of dodecamers and hexamers, with dodecamers formed by the perpendicular association of two hexamers. The composition of these polymers was determined by electrophoresis and, for the first time, by electrospray mass spectrometry. Dodecamers and hexamers are composed of six subunits common to the two forms, with molecular mass ranging from 75,008 Da to 75,534 Da. In addition, we found two dodecamer-specific subunits, at 75,419 Da and 75,629 Da. The native hemocyanin possesses a high oxygen affinity (P(50) varies between 4 and 10 Torr at pH 7.5, 15 degrees C) and a large Bohr coefficient (Delta log P(50)/DeltapH approximately -1.8). Oxygen affinity is not affected by lactate or, surprisingly, temperature between 5 degrees C and 35 degrees C (DeltaH = 1.16 kJ/mol(1) 5-35 degrees C). Dialysis of native hemolymph elicited a significant increase in Hc-O(2) affinity (DeltaP(50) = 2.5 Torr at pH 7.5), an effect opposite the usual trend observed for crustacean hemocyanins. In this article these functional properties are interpreted in relation to characteristics of the environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Brachyura / chemistry*
  • Electrophoresis
  • Hemocyanins / chemistry*
  • Hemocyanins / metabolism
  • Hemocyanins / physiology
  • Hemolymph / chemistry
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lactic Acid / chemistry
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Temperature


  • Lactic Acid
  • Hemocyanins
  • Oxygen