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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2011 Oct;22(10):1763-70. doi: 10.1007/s13361-011-0182-0. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Heme binding in gas-phase holo-myoglobin cations: distal becomes proximal?

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  • 1Division of Physiological Chemistry I, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Scheelesv√§g 2, SE-17 177 Stockholm, Sweden.


His64 and His93 are the two well-known sites of heme binding in water-dissolved holo-myoglobin, with His93 being a proximal, strongly binding partner, while the distal His64 weakly coordinates to the heme through a small-molecule ligand, e.g., water or O(2). The heme bonding scheme in a water-free environment is as yet unclear. Here we employed electron transfer dissociation tandem mass spectrometry to study the preferential attachment site of the ferri-heme (Fe(3+)) in electrospray-produced 12+, 14+, and 16+ holo-myoglobin ions. Contrary to expectations, in lower-charge complexes that should have a structure resembling that in solution, the heme seems to be preferentially attached to the "distal" histidine. In contrast, in the highest studied charge state, the "proximal" histidine is the site of preferential attachment; the 14+ charge state is an intermediate case. This surprising finding raises a question of heme coordination in proteins transferred to water-free environment, as well as the effect of the protonation sites on heme bonding.

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 2011

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