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Comp Biochem Physiol B. 1989;94(1):139-42.

Arctic life adaptation--III. The function of whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) hemoglobin.

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Zoological Laboratory, University of Bergen, Norway.


1. The oxygen binding properties of the hemoglobin from the Lesser Rorqual, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, has been investigated with respect to the possible effects of organic phosphates on gas transport in arctic environments. 2. The intrinsic oxygen affinity of the hemoglobin is high and strongly modulated by the effects of organic phosphates. 3. In the absence of organic phosphates, the temperature sensitivity of oxygen binding expressed by the heat of oxygenation, delta H, is -16.2 kcal/mol when corrected for the heat of oxygen in solution. 4. In the presence of organic phosphates there is a marked decrease in the temperature sensitivity delta H approximately -5 kcal/mol). 5. This feature is of great importance for oxygen unloading in the flippers and the tail, where the temperature is lower than the trunk of the whale. 6. Furthermore the organic phosphates strongly increase the Bohr coefficient, delta log P50/delta pH, from less than -0.3 in stripped hemoglobin to about -1.5 when the hemoglobin is saturated with P6-inositol. 7. This feature may be of great physiological importance by reducing the CO2 tension and acidosis after a prolonged dive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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