A biophysical investigation of recombinant hemoglobins with aromatic B10 mutations in the distal heme pockets.

This study examines the structural and functional effects of amino acid substitutions in the distal side of both the alpha- and beta-chain heme pockets of human normal adult hemoglobin (Hb A). Using our Escherichia coli expression system, we have constructed four recombinant hemoglobins: rHb(alphaL29F), rHb(alphaL29W), rHb(betaL28F), and rHb(betaL28W). The alpha29 and beta28 residues are located in the B10 helix of the alpha- and beta-chains of Hb A, respectively. The B10 helix is significant because of its proximity to the ligand-binding site. Previous work showed the ability of the L29F mutation to inhibit oxidation. rHb(alphaL29W), rHb(betaL28F), and rHb(betaL28W) exhibit very low oxygen affinity and reduced cooperativity compared to those of Hb A, while the previously studied rHb(alphaL29F) exhibits high oxygen affinity. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy indicates that these mutations in the B10 helix do not significantly perturb the alpha(1)beta(1) and alpha(1)beta(2) subunit interfaces, while as expected, the tertiary structures near the heme pockets are affected. Experiments in which visible spectrophotometry was utilized reveal that rHb(alphaL29F) has equivalent or slower rates of autoxidation and azide-induced oxidation than does Hb A, while rHb(alphaL29W), rHb(betaL28F), and rHb(betaL28W) have increased rates. Bimolecular rate constants for NO-induced oxidation have been determined using a stopped-flow apparatus. These findings indicate that amino acid residues in the B10 helix of the alpha- and beta-chains can play different roles in regulating the functional properties and stability of the hemoglobin molecule. These results may provide new insights for designing a new generation of hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers.