Glycosylated minor components of human adult hemoglobin. Purification, identification, and partial structural analysis

J Biol Chem. 1978 Apr 10;253(7):2327-32.


Human hemolysate contains several minor components designated Hb A1a, Hb A1b, Hb A1c, which are post-translational modifications of the major hemoglobin component A0. Individuals with diabetes mellitus have elevated levels of Hb A1c, a hemoglobin modified with a glucose moiety at the NH2 terminus of each beta chain. A new chromatographic technique using Bio-Rex 70 is described which not only allows complete separation of Hb A1a from Hb A1b but also resolution of Hb A1a into two components, designated Hb A1a1 and Hb A1a2. Carbohydrate determinations with the thiobarbituric acid procedure revealed that Hb A1a1, Hb A1a2, and Hb A1b as well as Hb A1c were glycosylated. Total phosphate analysis revealed 2.06 and 1.01 mol of phosphorus/alphabeta dimer for Hb A1a1 and Hb A1a2 respectively; Hb A1b and Hb A1c contained no detectable phosphate. Hemoglobin incubated with D-[14C]glucose-6-P co-chromatographs precisely with Hb A1a2, strongly suggesting that Hb A1a2 is glucose-6-P hemoglobin. Levels of Hb A1a1 and Hb A1a2 are normal in individuals with diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, diabetic red cells contain normal levels of glucose-6-P. Therefore, glucose-6-P hemoglobin does not serve as a significant precursor to Hb A1c. Instead Hb A1c is formed by the direct reaction of hemoglobin with glucose. This suggests that hemoglobin can serve as a model system for nonenzymatic glycosylation of protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Fructosephosphates / blood
  • Glucosephosphates / blood
  • Hemoglobin A* / isolation & purification
  • Hemoglobins* / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / analysis
  • Protein Denaturation


  • Carbohydrates
  • Fructosephosphates
  • Glucosephosphates
  • Hemoglobins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Hemoglobin A