Effects of amino acid substitutions at beta 131 on the structure and properties of hemoglobin: evidence for communication between alpha 1 beta 1- and alpha 1 beta 2-subunit interfaces.

Substitutions of Asn, Glu, and Leu for Gln at the beta131 position of the hemoglobin molecule result in recombinant hemoglobins (rHbs) with moderately lowered oxygen affinity and high cooperativity compared to human normal adult hemoglobin (Hb A). The mutation site affects the hydrogen bonds present at the alpha(1)beta(1)-subunit interface between alpha103His and beta131Gln as well as that between alpha122His and beta35Tyr. NMR spectroscopy shows that the hydrogen bonds are indeed perturbed; in the case of rHb (beta131Gln --> Asn) and rHb (beta131Gln --> Leu), the perturbations are propagated to the other alpha(1)beta(1)-interface H-bond involving alpha122His and beta35Tyr. Proton exchange measurements also detect faster exchange rates for both alpha(1)beta(1)-interface histidine side chains of the mutant rHbs in 0.1 M sodium phosphate buffer at pH 7.0 than for those of Hb A under the same conditions. In addition, the same measurements in 0.1 M Tris buffer at pH 7.0 show a much slower exchange rate for mutant rHbs and Hb A. One of the mutants, rHb (beta131Gln --> Asn), shows the conformational exchange of its interface histidines, and exchange rate measurements have been attempted. We have also conducted studies on the reactivity of the SH group of beta93Cys (a residue located in the region of the alpha(1)beta(2)-subunit interface) toward p-mercuribenzoate, and our results show that low-oxygen-affinity rHbs have a more reactive beta93Cys than Hb A in the CO form. Our results indicate that there is communication between the alpha(1)beta(1)- and alpha(1)beta(2)-subunit interfaces, and a possible communication pathway for the cooperative oxygenation of Hb A that allows the alpha(1)beta(1)-subunit interface to modulate the functional properties in conjunction with the alpha(1)beta(2) interface is proposed.