Differential Haemoglobin Gene Expression in the Crustacean Daphnia Magna Exposed to Different Oxygen Partial Pressures

Biol Chem. 2003 Aug;384(8):1133-45. doi: 10.1515/BC.2003.126.


The quantity and quality of the haemoglobin (Hb) of Daphnia magna is related to oxygen partial pressure in the water. Both the dynamics of hypoxia-induced Hb gene transcription, as well as Hb properties in animals incubated long-term at hyperoxia, normoxia and hypoxia, were investigated. Examination of Hb gene (dhb1-dhb3) transcription showed the expression of dhb2 and especially dhb3 to increase markedly approximately one hour after the onset of hypoxia, whereas dhb1 was expressed more or less constitutively. At an incubation close to anoxia, an onset of dhb3 transcription was found already after two minutes. In long-term incubated animals, concentration and oxygen affinity of Hb were lower at higher oxygen partial pressures. With decreasing oxygen availability, the subunit composition of Hb macromolecules changed. The share of the dhb2-encoded subunit, DHbF, increased already during moderate hypoxia. The increase of dhb3 mRNA (encoding DHbC) may be related to a transient increase of DHbC in the first days of hypoxia and/or to an additional coding of dhb3 for DHbD. The rise of DHbD, and particularly DHbA, only at severe hypoxia coincided with the increase of Hb oxygen affinity. The dhb1-encoded subunits DHbB and DHbE showed either a relatively moderate increase or even a decrease in concentration at hypoxia. In small animals with restricted homeostasis capabilities such as Daphnia, adaptation of the protein equipment seems to be a more effective strategy than allosteric modulator control.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Daphnia / genetics*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hemoglobins / biosynthesis
  • Hemoglobins / genetics*
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Partial Pressure
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Hemoglobins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Oxygen