Adventitious variability? The amino acid sequences of nonvertebrate globins

Comp Biochem Physiol B. 1993 Sep;106(1):1-26. doi: 10.1016/0305-0491(93)90002-m.


1. The more than 140 amino acid sequences of non-vertebrate hemoglobins (Hbs) and myoglobins (Mbs) that are known at present, can be divided into several distinct groups: (1) single-chain globins, containing one heme-binding domain; (2) truncated, single-chain, one-domain globins; (3) chimeric, one-domain globins; (4) chimeric, two-domain globins; and (5) chimeric multi-domain globins. 2. The crystal structures of eight nonvertebrate Hbs and Mbs are known, all of them monomeric, one-domain globin chains. Although these molecules represent plants, prokaryotes and several metazoan groups, and although the inter-subunit interactions in the dimeric and tetrameric molecules differ from the ones observed in vertebrate Hbs, the secondary structures of all seven one-domain globins retain the characteristic vertebrate "myoglobin fold". No crystal structures of globins representing the other four groups have been determined. 3. Furthermore, a number of the one-, two- and multi-domain globin chains participate in a broad variety of quaternary structures, ranging from homo- and heterodimers to highly complex, multisubunit aggregates with M(r) > 3000 kDa (S. N. Vinogradov, Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 82B, 1-15, 1985). 4. (1) The single-chain, single-domain globins are comparable in size to the vertebrate globins and exhibit the widest distribution. (A) Intracellular Hbs include: (i) the monomeric and polymeric Hbs of the polychaete Glycera; (ii) the tetrameric Hb of the echiuran Urechis; (iii) the dimeric Hbs of echinoderms such as Paracaudina and Caudina; and (iv) the dimeric and tetrameric Hbs of molluscs, the bivalves Scapharca, Anadara, Barbatia and Calyptogena. (B) Extracellular Hbs include: (i) the multiple monomeric and dimeric Hbs of the larva of the insect Chironomus; (ii) the Hbs of nematodes such as Trichostrongylus and Caenorhabditis; (iii) the globin chains forming tetramers and dodecamers and comprising approximately 2/3 of the giant (approximately 3600 kDa), hexagonal bilayer (HBL) Hbs of annelids, e.g. the oligochaete Lumbricus and the polychaete Tylorrhynchus and of the vestimentiferan Lamellibrachia; and (iv) the globin chains comprising the ca 400 kDa Hbs of Lamellibrachia and the pogonophoran Oligobrachia. (C) Cytoplasmic Hbs include: (i) the Mbs of molluscs, the gastropods Aplysia, Bursatella, Cerithedea, Nassa and Dolabella and the chiton Liolophura; (ii) the three Hb of the symbiont-harboring bivalve Lucina; (iii) the dimeric Hb of the bacterium Vitreoscilla; and (iv) plant Hbs, including the Hbs of symbiont-containing legumes (Lgbs), the Hbs of symbiont-containing non-leguminous plants and the Hbs in the roots of symbiont-free plants.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Hemoglobins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / chemistry*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Myoglobin / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Hemoglobins
  • Myoglobin
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins