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Biochem J. 1997 Sep 1;326 ( Pt 2):299-303.

A two-state analysis of co-operative oxygen binding in the three human embryonic haemoglobins.

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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


The binding of oxygen to the three human embryonic haemoglobins, at pH 7.4, has been shown to occur as a co-operative process. Analysis of oxygen-binding curves obtained in the absence of organic phosphate allosteric effectors shows that the process can be described quite accurately by the two-state model of allosteric action. In the presence of organic phosphates, the binding affinity for oxygen to the T-state of the alpha 2 epsilon 2 and zeta 2 epsilon 2 haemoglobins is significantly lowered. The values of the best-fit two-state parameters determined for each of the embryonic haemoglobins together with the temperature-dependence of the overall equilibrium binding process are discussed in terms of oxygen transfer from the maternal blood supply. Fast-reaction studies have been used to determine the rate constants of the oxygen association and dissociation processes occurring in the R-state and the rate of the allosteric R > T conformational transition. Analysis of these data suggests a likely reason for the high affinity and low co-operativity of the embryonic proteins and identifies the origins of the inability of equilibrium measurements to identify chain non-equivalence in the R-state.

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