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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):14894-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205809109. Epub 2012 Aug 27.

The Monod-Wyman-Changeux allosteric model accounts for the quaternary transition dynamics in wild type and a recombinant mutant human hemoglobin.

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of Palermo, Via Archirafi 36, I-90123 Palermo, Italy.


The acknowledged success of the Monod-Wyman-Changeux (MWC) allosteric model stems from its efficacy in accounting for the functional behavior of many complex proteins starting with hemoglobin (the paradigmatic case) and extending to channels and receptors. The kinetic aspects of the allosteric model, however, have been often neglected, with the exception of hemoglobin and a few other proteins where conformational relaxations can be triggered by a short and intense laser pulse, and monitored by time-resolved optical spectroscopy. Only recently the application of time-resolved wide-angle X-ray scattering (TR-WAXS), a direct structurally sensitive technique, unveiled the time scale of hemoglobin quaternary structural transition. In order to test the generality of the MWC kinetic model, we carried out a TR-WAXS investigation in parallel on adult human hemoglobin and on a recombinant protein (HbYQ) carrying two mutations at the active site [Leu(B10)Tyr and His(E7)Gln]. HbYQ seemed an ideal test because, although exhibiting allosteric properties, its kinetic and structural properties are different from adult human hemoglobin. The structural dynamics of HbYQ unveiled by TR-WAXS can be quantitatively accounted for by the MWC kinetic model. Interestingly, the main structural change associated with the R-T allosteric transition (i.e., the relative rotation and translation of the dimers) is approximately 10-fold slower in HbYQ, and the drop in the allosteric transition rate with ligand saturation is steeper. Our results extend the general validity of the MWC kinetic model and reveal peculiar thermodynamic properties of HbYQ. A possible structural interpretation of the characteristic kinetic behavior of HbYQ is also discussed.

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