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A survey of hemoglobin quaternary structures
Pinak Chakrabarti, Jo{\"{e}}l Janin
Published in
2011
Volume: 79

Issue: 10
Pages: 2861 - 2870
Abstract
We perform an analysis of the quaternary structure and dimer/dimer interface in the crystal structures of 165 human hemoglobin tetramers; 112 are in the T, 17 the R, 14 the Y (or R2) state; 11 are high-affinity T state mutants and 11 may either be intermediates between the states, or off the allosteric transition pathway. The tertiary structure is fixed within each state, in spite of the different ligands, mutations and chemical modifications present in individual entries. The geometry of the tetramer assembly is essentially the same in all the R or the Y state entries; it is slightly different in high salt and low salt crystals of T state hemoglobins. The dimer/dimer interface differs in terms of size, chemical composition and polar interactions, between the states. It is loosely packed, like crystal packing contacts or the subunit interface of weakly associated homodimers and unlike most oligomeric proteins, which have close-packed interfaces. The loose packing is most obvious in the liganded forms, where the tetramer is known to dissociate at low concentration. We identify cavities that contribute to the loose packing of the $\alpha$1$\beta$2 and $\alpha$2$\beta$1 contacts. Two pairs of cavities occur recurrently in both the T and the R state tetramers. They may contribute to the allosteric mechanism by facilitating the subunit movements and the tertiary structure changes that accompany the transition from T to R to Y. {\textcopyright} 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.