T-quaternary structure of oxy human adult hemoglobin in the presence of two allosteric effectors, L35 and IHP

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Oct;1807(10):1253-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


The cooperative O(2)-binding of hemoglobin (Hb) have been assumed to correlate to change in the quaternary structures of Hb: T(deoxy)- and R(oxy)-quaternary structures, having low and high O(2)-affinities, respectively. Heterotropic allosteric effectors have been shown to interact not only with deoxy- but also oxy-Hbs causing significant reduction in their O(2)-affinities and the modulation of cooperativity. In the presence of two potent effectors, L35 and inositol hexaphosphate (IHP) at pH 6.6, Hb exhibits extremely low O(2)-affinities (K(T)=0.0085mmHg(-1) and K(R)=0.011mmHg(-1)) and thus a very low cooperativity (K(R)/K(T)=1.3 and L(0)=2.4). (1)H-NMR spectra of human adult Hb with these two effectors were examined in order to determine the quaternary state of Hb in solution and to clarify the correlation between the O(2)-affinities and the structural change of Hb caused by the heterotropic effectors. At pH 6.9, (1)H-NMR spectrum of deoxy-Hb in the presence of L35 and IHP showed a marker of the T-quaternary structure (the T-marker) at 14ppm, originated from inter- dimeric α(1)β(2)- (or α(2)β(1)-) hydrogen-bonds, and hyperfine-shifted (hfs) signals around 15-25ppm, caused by high-spin heme-Fe(II)s. Upon addition of O(2), the hfs signals disappeared, reflecting that the heme-Fe(II)s are ligated with O(2), but the T-marker signals still remained, although slightly shifted and broadened, under the partial pressure of O(2) (P(O2)) of 760mmHg. These NMR results accompanying with visible absorption spectroscopy and visible resonance Raman spectroscopy reveal that oxy-Hb in the presence of L35 and IHP below pH 7 takes the ligated T-quaternary structure under the P(O2) of 760mmHg. The L35-concentration dependence of the T-marker in the presence of IHP indicates that there are more than one kind of L35-binding sites in the ligated T-quaternary structure. The stronger binding sites are probably intra-dimeric binding sites between α(1)G- and β(1)G-helices, and the other weaker binding site causes the R→T transition without release of O(2). The fluctuation of the tertiary structure of Hb seems to be caused by both the structural perturbation of α(1)β(1) (or α(2)β(2)) intra-dimeric interface, where the stronger L35-binding sites exist, and by the IHP-binding to the α(1)α(2)- (or β(1)β(2)-) cavity. The tertiary structural fluctuation induced by the allosteric effectors may contribute to the significant reduction of the O(2)-affinity of oxy-Hb, which little depends on the quaternary structures. Therefore, the widely held assumptions of the structure-function correlation of Hb - [the deoxy-state]=[the T-quaternary structure]=[the low O(2)-affinity state] and [the oxy-state]=[the R-quaternary structure]=[the high O(2)-affinity state] and the O(2)-affiny of Hb being regulated by the T/R-quaternary structural transition - are no longer sustainable. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Allosteric cooperativity in respiratory proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hemoglobin A / chemistry
  • Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / chemistry*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxyhemoglobins / chemistry*
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism
  • Phenylurea Compounds / metabolism
  • Phenylurea Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism
  • Phytic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Multimerization / drug effects
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary / drug effects*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / drug effects
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxyhemoglobins
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • L 35
  • Phytic Acid
  • deoxyhemoglobin
  • Hemoglobin A
  • Oxygen