The parasitic nematode Ascaris suum has a gene encoding a two-domain hemoglobin with remarkable oxygen avidity. The strong interaction with oxygen is a consequence of a particularly slow oxygen off-rate. The single polypeptide chain consists of two domains, each of which can be expressed separately in Escherichia coli as a globin-like protein exhibiting oxygen binding characteristics comparable with the native molecule. Site-directed mutagenesis was performed on the gene segment encoding domain one. The E7 position, involved in forming a hydrogen bond with the liganded oxygen in vertebrate globins, is a glutamine in both Ascaris domains. Conversion of this residue to leucine or alanine produced a hemoglobin variant with an oxygen off-rate 5- or 60-fold faster than that of unaltered domain one. Replacement of the tyrosine B10 with either phenylalanine or leucine (as found in vertebrate globins) yielded hemoglobin mutants with oxygen off- rates 280- or 570-fold faster, approaching rates found with vertebrate myoglobins. The data suggest that the distal glutamine hydrogen bonds with the liganded oxygen and that the tyrosine B10 hydroxyl contributes an additional hydrogen bond that appears substantially responsible for the extreme oxygen avidity of Ascaris hemoglobin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2377-2379
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 28 1994


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