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J Biol Chem. 1997 May 9;272(19):12568-74.

Heme oxygenase-2 is a hemoprotein and binds heme through heme regulatory motifs that are not involved in heme catalysis.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The heme oxygenase (HO) system degrades heme to biliverdin and CO and releases chelated iron. In the primary sequence of the constitutive form, HO-2, there are three potential heme binding sites: two heme regulatory motifs (HRMs) with the absolutely conserved Cys-Pro pair, and a conserved 24-residue heme catalytic pocket with a histidine residue, His151 in rat HO-2. The visible and pyridine hemochromogen spectra suggest that the Escherichia coli expressed purified HO-2 is a hemoprotein. The absorption spectrum, heme fluorescence quenching, and heme titration analysis of the wild-type protein versus those of purified double cysteine mutant (Cys264/Cys281 --> Ala/Ala) suggest a role of the HRMs in heme binding. While the His151 --> Ala mutation inactivates HO-2, Cys264 --> Ala and Cys281 --> Ala mutations individually or together (HO-2 mut) do not decrease HO activity. Also, Pro265 --> Ala or Pro282 --> Ala mutation does not alter HO-2 activity. Northern blot analysis of ptk cells indicates that HO-2 mRNA is not regulated by heme. The findings, together with other salient features of HO-2 and the ability of heme-protein complexes to generate oxygen radicals, are consistent with HO-2, like five other HRM-containing proteins, having a regulatory function in the cell.

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