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J Biol Chem. 1987 Jan 5;262(1):46-52.

Functional effects of heme orientational disorder in sperm whale myoglobin.


The optical absorption and ligand binding properties of newly reconstituted sperm whale myoglobin were examined systematically at pH 8, 20 degrees C. The conventional absorbance and magnetic circular dichroism spectra of freshly reconstituted samples were identical to those of the native protein. In contrast, reconstituted azide or CO myoglobin initially exhibited less circular dichroism in the Soret wavelength region than native myoglobin. These data support the theory proposed by La Mar and co-workers (La Mar, G. N., Davis, N. L., Parish, D. W., and Smith, R. M. (1983) J. Mol. Biol. 168, 887-896) that protoheme inserts into apomyoglobin in two distinct orientations. The equilibrium and kinetic parameters for O2 and CO binding to newly reconstituted myoglobin were observed to be identical to those of the native protein. Thus, the orientation of the heme group has no effect on the physiological properties of myoglobin. This result is in disagreement with the preliminary report of Livingston et al. (Livingston, D. J., Davis, N. L., La Mar, G. N., and Brown, W. D. (1984) J. Am. Chem. Soc. 106, 3025-3026) which suggested that the abnormal heme conformation exhibited a 10-fold greater affinity and association rate constant for O2 binding. Significant kinetic heterogeneity was observed only for long-chain isonitrile binding to newly reconstituted myoglobin, and even in these cases, the rate constants for the abnormal and normal heme conformations differed by less than a factor of 4.

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