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J Biol Chem. 1988 Mar 5;263(7):3348-53.

Evidence suggesting that the two forms of heme oxygenase are products of different genes.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York 14642.


Recently, we have reported on the presence of two forms of heme oxygenase in rat liver and testis microsomes, referred to as HO-1 and HO-2 (M. D. Maines, G. M. Trakshel, and R. K. Kutty (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 411-419; G. M. Trakshel, R. K. Kutty, and M. D. Maines (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 11131-11137). Although the two forms differed in several biochemical properties, we could not ascertain whether they represented two isozymes or whether they were isoforms of heme oxygenase. In the present study, we provide evidence suggesting that the two forms are isozymes and represent different gene products. We also provide data suggesting that HO-1 is the commonly known heme oxygenase form. The molecular weight and immunochemical properties of HO-1 and HO-2 did not vary depending on the tissue source examined, i.e. liver and testis. Major differences, however, were noted in the amino acid composition of the two forms including the presence of 3 cysteine/cystine residues in HO-2 only. Using antibody to HO-2, four testis clones and two liver clones were isolated, and one liver and one testis clone were sequenced. Both clones revealed a 274-base-pair insert, and the sequence of both inserts was the same. The validity of assignment was confirmed by matching a 14-amino-acid peptide obtained from purified HO-2 with the sequence. Approximately 43% amino acid homology was detected between the HO-2 insert and the published amino acid sequence of heme oxygenase. However, amino acid homology search revealed the presence of two regions of homology: one 22-mer sequence with only one unmatched amino acid, and one 10-mer sequence with one unmatched amino acid. Heme oxygenase appeared to be the HO-1 form, an assignment based on its amino acid sequence matching the sequence of 2 peptides obtained from purified HO-1 and the immunochemical properties of the cobalt-, hematin-, and bromobenzene-induced rat liver enzyme. The secondary structure prediction analysis revealed an area of 100% structural homology with only 72% sequence homology. We predict this region may represent the catalytic site of the enzyme.

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