Hemoglobin III (HbIII) is one of the two oxygen reactive hemoproteins present in the bivalve, Lucina pectinata. The clam inhabits a sulfur-rich environment and HbIII is the only hemoprotein present in the system which does not yet have a structure described elsewhere. It is known that HbIII exists as a heterodimer with hemoglobin II (HbII) to generate the stable Oxy(HbII-HbIII) complex but it remains unknown if HbIII can form a homodimeric species. Here, a new chromatographic methodology to separate OxyHbIII from the HbII-HbIII dimer has been developed, employing a fast performance liquid chromatography and ionic exchange chromatography column. The nature of OxyHbIII in solution at concentrations from 1.6 mg/mL to 20.4 mg/mL was studied using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The results show that at all concentrations, the Oxy(HbIII-HbIII) dimer dominates in solution. However, as the concentration increases to nonphysiological values, 20.4 mg/mL, HbIII forms a 30% tetrameric fraction. Thus, there is a direct relationship between the Oxy(HbIII-HbIII) oligomeric form and hemoglobin concentration. We suggest it is likely that the OxyHbIII dimer contributes to active oxygen transport in tissues of L pectinata, where the Oxy(HbII-HbIII) complex is not present.
Keywords: SAXS; hemeproteins; protein oligomerization.
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