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Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1986 Feb;367(2):153-60.

Interaction of allosteric effectors with alpha-globin chains and high altitude respiration of mammals. The primary structure of two tylopoda hemoglobins with high oxygen affinity: vicuna (Lama vicugna) and alpaca (Lama pacos).


Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and ion-exchange chromatography revealed one hemoglobin component for vicuna (Lama vicugna) and alpaca (Lama pacos). Following chain separation by chromatography on carboxymethyl-cellulose, the amino-acid sequences were elucidated for the alpha- and beta-chains of both hemoglobins using automatic Edman degradation of the chains and the tryptic peptides. Vicuna and alpaca have identical beta-chains showing no substitutions to llama (Lama glama) either. In the alpha-chains alpaca differs from llama by the exchange of one amino-acid residue: alpha 122(H5)Asp----His. The same substitution is present in vicuna too, but in addition we found two more exchanges: alpha 10(A8)Ile----Val and alpha 130(H13)Ala----Thr. The close relationship between llama and alpaca suggests that they both originate from the wild guanaco, and there is no domesticated form of vicuna. The sequence data show that the higher oxygen affinity in vicuna compared to llama and alpaca must be due to the alpha-chains as the beta-chains are identical. The significance of the substitutions in alpha 122(H5), an alpha 1/beta 1-contact, and alpha 130(H13) is discussed.

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