Spectroscopic Studies of Protein-Heme Interactions Accompanying the Allosteric Transition in Methemoglobins†

Eric R. Henry, Denis L. Rousseau, John J. Hopfield, Robert W. Noble, Sanford R. Simon

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35 Scopus citations


Resonance Raman, optical absorption, and circular dichroism spectroscopic techniques have been used to examine the effect of the addition of inositol hexaphosphate (IHP) to a series of carp and human methemoglobin derivatives. Markers of spin equilibrium in the high-frequency region (1450-1650 cm-1) of the resonance Raman spectrum yield high/low-spin ratios consistent with direct magnetic susceptibility measurements. Changes in the low-frequency region (100-600 cm-1) of the resonance Raman spectrum appear to correlate with the quaternary structure transition. Changes in the ultraviolet absorption spectra and the circular dichroism spectra also appear to be related to the quaternary structure change. By using the resonance Raman spin markers, we find that those derivatives of carp methemoglobin which are in spin equilibrium have a larger ratio of high-spin to low-spin populations than the corresponding derivatives of human methemoglobin. Upon the addition of IHP to the methemoglobins the spin equilibrium is shifted toward a larger high-spin population. This change in equilibrium is larger for the carp protein than for the human protein. We obtain an IHP-induced change in the free energy difference between the high-spin and low-spin states of 300 cal/mol for those human methemoglobins in which a quaternary structure change occurs and 600 cal/mol for carp methemoglobins. Our data are consistent with a quaternary structure change induced by IHP in all the carp methemoglobins studied (F-, H2O, SCN", [formula omitted], and CN") and in the F-, H2O, and SCN- derivatives of the human protein but not in the [formulla omitted], and CN- derivatives. The Fe-CN stretching mode has been identified by isotopic substitution and found to be unchanged in frequency in carp CN- metHb when the quaternary structure is changed. On the basis of our results we conclude that the protein forces at the heme due to the addition of IHP do not significantly affect the position of the iron atom with respect to the heme plane. Rather, the changes in spin equilibrium may be caused by protein-induced changes in the orientation of the proximal histidine or tertiary structure changes in the heme pocket which affect the porphyrin macrocycle. Either of these changes, or a combination thereof, leads to changes in the iron D orbital energies and concomitant changes in the spin equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5907-5918
Number of pages12
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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