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Biophys Chem. 1990 Aug 31;37(1-3):287-92.

A cooperative hemoglobin with directly communicating hemes. The Scapharca inaequivalvis homodimer.

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  • 1Department of Biochemical Sciences, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


The unique functional properties of the homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) extracted from the Arcid blood clam Scapharca inaequivalvis are discussed in the light of the unusual assembly of this protein. At variance with vertebrate hemoglobins, in S. inaequivalvis HbI, the heme-carrying E and F helices form the subunit interface and bring the heme groups almost into direct contact. This creates a new pathway for transferring information about the ligation state of the heme from one subunit to the other which allows cooperativity in the binding of heme ligands to be displayed by a homodimer. The tight coupling between the two subunits and the two heme groups also manifests itself in other reactions that are cooperative in S. inaequivalvis HbI, but not in human hemoglobin, namely, the cleavage of the proximal histidine-heme iron bond and the modification of specific residues located at the subunit interface.

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