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J Biol Inorg Chem. 2009 Jun;14(5):741-50. doi: 10.1007/s00775-009-0487-7. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

Linking conformation change to hemoglobin activation via chain-selective time-resolved resonance Raman spectroscopy of protoheme/mesoheme hybrids.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Time-resolved resonance Raman (RR) spectra are reported for hemoglobin (Hb) tetramers, in which the alpha and beta chains are selectively substituted with mesoheme. The Soret absorption band shift in mesoheme relative to protoheme permits chain-selective recording of heme RR spectra. The evolution of these spectra following HbCO photolysis shows that the geminate recombination rates and the yields are the same for the two chains, consistent with recent results on (15)N-heme isotopomer hybrids. The spectra also reveal systematic shifts in the deoxyheme nu (4) and nu (Fe-His) RR bands, which are anticorrelated. These shifts are resolved for the successive intermediates in the protein structure, which have previously been determined from time-resolved UV RR spectra. Both chains show Fe-His bond compression in the immediate photoproduct, which relaxes during the formation of the first intermediate, R(deoxy) (0.07 micros), in which the proximal F-helix is proposed to move away from the heme. Subsequently, the Fe-His bond weakens, more so for the alpha chains than for the beta chains. The weakening is gradual for the beta chains, but is abrupt for the alpha chains, coinciding with completion of the R-T quaternary transition, at 20 micros. Since the transition from fast- to slow-rebinding Hb also occurs at 20 micros, the drop in the alpha chain nu (Fe-His) supports the localization of ligation restraint to tension in the Fe-His bond, at least in the alpha chains. The mechanism is more complex in the beta chains.

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