Quaternary structure of carbonmonoxyhemoglobins in solution: structural changes induced by the allosteric effector inositol hexaphosphate.
We have applied the residual dipolar coupling (RDC) method to investigate the solution quaternary structures of (2)H- and (15)N-labeled human normal adult recombinant hemoglobin (rHb A) and a low-oxygen-affinity mutant recombinant hemoglobin, rHb(alpha96Val-->Trp), both in the carbonmonoxy form, in the absence and presence of an allosteric effector, inositol hexaphosphate (IHP), using a stretched polyacrylamide gel as the alignment medium. Our recent RDC results [Lukin, J. A., Kontaxis, G., Simplaceanu, V., Yuan, Y., Bax, A., and Ho, C. (2003) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 517-520] indicate that the quaternary structure of HbCO A in solution is a dynamic ensemble between two previously determined crystal structures, R (crystals grown under high-salt conditions) and R2 (crystals grown under low-salt conditions). On the basis of a comparison of the geometric coordinates of the T, R, and R2 structures, it has been suggested that the oxygenation of Hb A follows the transition pathway from T to R and then to R2, with R being the intermediate structure [Srinivasan, R., and Rose, G. D. (1994) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 91, 11113-11117]. The results presented here suggest that IHP can shift the solution quaternary structure of HbCO A slightly toward the R structure. The solution quaternary structure of rHbCO(alpha96Val-->Trp) in the absence of IHP is similar to that of HbCO A in the presence of IHP, consistent with rHbCO(alpha96Val-->Trp) having an affinity for oxygen lower than that of Hb A. Moreover, IHP has a much stronger effect in shifting the solution quaternary structure of rHbCO(alpha96Val-->Trp) toward the R structure and toward the T structure, consistent with IHP causing a more pronounced decrease in its oxygen affinity. The results presented in this work, as well as other results recently reported in the literature, clearly indicate that there are multiple quaternary structures for the ligated form of hemoglobin. These results also provide new insights regarding the roles of allosteric effectors in regulating the structure and function of hemoglobin. The classical two-state/two-structure allosteric mechanism for the cooperative oxygenation of hemoglobin cannot account for the structural and functional properties of this protein and needs to be revised.