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author:("wilde, Sylvia")
1.  Structure and Haem-Distal Site Plasticity in Methanosarcina acetivorans Protoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66144.
Protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A (MaPgb), a strictly anaerobic methanogenic Archaea, is a dimeric haem-protein whose biological role is still unknown. As other globins, protoglobin can bind O2, CO and NO reversibly in vitro, but it displays specific functional and structural properties within members of the hemoglobin superfamily. CO binding to and dissociation from the haem occurs through biphasic kinetics, which arise from binding to (and dissociation from) two distinct tertiary states in a ligation-dependent equilibrium. From the structural viewpoint, protoglobin-specific loops and a N-terminal extension of 20 residues completely bury the haem within the protein matrix. Thus, access of small ligand molecules to the haem is granted by two apolar tunnels, not common to other globins, which reach the haem distal site from locations at the B/G and B/E helix interfaces. Here, the roles played by residues Trp(60)B9, Tyr(61)B10 and Phe(93)E11 in ligand recognition and stabilization are analyzed, through crystallographic investigations on the ferric protein and on selected mutants. Specifically, protein structures are reported for protoglobin complexes with cyanide, with azide (also in the presence of Xenon), and with more bulky ligands, such as imidazole and nicotinamide. Values of the rate constant for cyanide dissociation from ferric MaPgb-cyanide complexes have been correlated to hydrogen bonds provided by Trp(60)B9 and Tyr(61)B10 that stabilize the haem-Fe(III)-bound cyanide. We show that protoglobin can strikingly reshape, in a ligand-dependent way, the haem distal site, where Phe(93)E11 acts as ligand sensor and controls accessibility to the haem through the tunnel system by modifying the conformation of Trp(60)B9.
PMCID: PMC3680402  PMID: 23776624
2.  Androglobin: A Chimeric Globin in Metazoans That Is Preferentially Expressed in Mammalian Testes 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2011;29(4):1105-1114.
Comparative genomic studies have led to the recent identification of several novel globin types in the Metazoa. They have revealed a surprising evolutionary diversity of functions beyond the familiar O2 supply roles of hemoglobin and myoglobin. Here we report the discovery of a hitherto unrecognized family of proteins with a unique modular architecture, possessing an N-terminal calpain-like domain, an internal, circular permuted globin domain, and an IQ calmodulin-binding motif. Putative orthologs are present in the genomes of many metazoan taxa, including vertebrates. The calpain-like region is homologous to the catalytic domain II of the large subunit of human calpain-7. The globin domain satisfies the criteria of a myoglobin-like fold but is rearranged and split into two parts. The recombinantly expressed human globin domain exhibits an absorption spectrum characteristic of hexacoordination of the heme iron atom. Molecular evolutionary analyses indicate that this chimeric globin family is phylogenetically ancient and originated in the common ancestor to animals and choanoflagellates. In humans and mice, the gene is predominantly expressed in testis tissue, and we propose the name “androglobin” (Adgb). Expression is associated with postmeiotic stages of spermatogenesis and is insensitive to experimental hypoxia. Evidence exists for increased gene expression in fertile compared with infertile males.
PMCID: PMC3350324  PMID: 22115833
gene family; hexacoordination; hypoxia; protein domain; spermatogenesis
3.  CO Rebinding Kinetics and Molecular Dynamics Simulations Highlight Dynamic Regulation of Internal Cavities in Human Cytoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e49770.
Cytoglobin (Cygb) was recently discovered in the human genome and localized in different tissues. It was suggested to play tissue-specific protective roles, spanning from scavenging of reactive oxygen species in neurons to supplying oxygen to enzymes in fibroblasts. To shed light on the functioning of such versatile machinery, we have studied the processes supporting transport of gaseous heme ligands in Cygb. Carbon monoxide rebinding shows a complex kinetic pattern with several distinct reaction intermediates, reflecting rebinding from temporary docking sites, second order recombination, and formation (and dissociation) of a bis-histidyl heme hexacoordinated reaction intermediate. Ligand exit to the solvent occurs through distinct pathways, some of which exploit temporary docking sites. The remarkable change in energetic barriers, linked to heme bis-histidyl hexacoordination by HisE7, may be responsible for active regulation of the flux of reactants and products to and from the reaction site on the distal side of the heme. A substantial change in both protein dynamics and inner cavities is observed upon transition from the CO-liganded to the pentacoordinated and bis-histidyl hexacoordinated species, which could be exploited as a signalling state. These findings are consistent with the expected versatility of the molecular activity of this protein.
PMCID: PMC3537629  PMID: 23308092
4.  An N-Myristoylated Globin with a Redox-Sensing Function That Regulates the Defecation Cycle in Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e48768.
Globins occur in all kingdoms of life where they fulfill a wide variety of functions. In the past they used to be primarily characterized as oxygen transport/storage proteins, but since the discovery of new members of the globin family like neuroglobin and cytoglobin, more diverse and complex functions have been assigned to this heterogeneous family. Here we propose a function for a membrane-bound globin of C. elegans, GLB-26. This globin was predicted to be myristoylated at its N-terminus, a post-translational modification only recently described in the globin family. In vivo, this globin is found in the membrane of the head mesodermal cell and in the tail stomato-intestinal and anal depressor muscle cells. Since GLB-26 is almost directly oxidized when exposed to oxygen, we postulate a possible function as electron transfer protein. Phenotypical studies show that GLB-26 takes part in regulating the length of the defecation cycle in C. elegans under oxidative stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC3520999  PMID: 23251335
5.  Biophysical Characterisation of Neuroglobin of the Icefish, a Natural Knockout for Hemoglobin and Myoglobin. Comparison with Human Neuroglobin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e44508.
The Antarctic icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus lacks the globins common to most vertebrates, hemoglobin and myoglobin, but has retained neuroglobin in the brain. This conserved globin has been cloned, over-expressed and purified. To highlight similarities and differences, the structural features of the neuroglobin of this colourless-blooded fish were compared with those of the well characterised human neuroglobin as well as with the neuroglobin from the retina of the red blooded, hemoglobin and myoglobin-containing, closely related Antarctic notothenioid Dissostichus mawsoni. A detailed structural and functional analysis of the two Antarctic fish neuroglobins was carried out by UV-visible and Resonance Raman spectroscopies, molecular dynamics simulations and laser-flash photolysis. Similar to the human protein, Antarctic fish neuroglobins can reversibly bind oxygen and CO in the Fe2+ form, and show six-coordination by distal His in the absence of exogenous ligands. A very large and structured internal cavity, with discrete docking sites, was identified in the modelled three-dimensional structures of the Antarctic neuroglobins. Estimate of the free-energy barriers from laser-flash photolysis and Implicit Ligand Sampling showed that the cavities are accessible from the solvent in both proteins.
Comparison of structural and functional properties suggests that the two Antarctic fish neuroglobins most likely preserved and possibly improved the function recently proposed for human neuroglobin in ligand multichemistry. Despite subtle differences, the adaptation of Antarctic fish neuroglobins does not seem to parallel the dramatic adaptation of the oxygen carrying globins, hemoglobin and myoglobin, in the same organisms.
PMCID: PMC3513292  PMID: 23226490
6.  Ligation Tunes Protein Reactivity in an Ancient Haemoglobin: Kinetic Evidence for an Allosteric Mechanism in Methanosarcina acetivorans Protoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33614.
Protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans (MaPgb) is a dimeric globin with peculiar structural properties such as a completely buried haem and two orthogonal tunnels connecting the distal cavity to the solvent. CO binding to and dissociation from MaPgb occur through a biphasic kinetics. We show that the heterogenous kinetics arises from binding to (and dissociation from) two tertiary conformations in ligation-dependent equilibrium. Ligation favours the species with high binding rate (and low dissociation rate). The equilibrium is shifted towards the species with low binding (and high dissociation) rates for the unliganded molecules. A quantitative model is proposed to describe the observed carbonylation kinetics.
PMCID: PMC3313925  PMID: 22479420
7.  A Phylogenetic Analysis of the Globins in Fungi 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31856.
All globins belong to one of three families: the F (flavohemoglobin) and S (sensor) families that exhibit the canonical 3/3 α-helical fold, and the T (truncated 3/3 fold) globins characterized by a shortened 2/2 α-helical fold. All eukaryote 3/3 hemoglobins are related to the bacterial single domain F globins. It is known that Fungi contain flavohemoglobins and single domain S globins. Our aims are to provide a census of fungal globins and to examine their relationships to bacterial globins.
Examination of 165 genomes revealed that globins are present in >90% of Ascomycota and ∼60% of Basidiomycota genomes. The S globins occur in Blastocladiomycota and Chytridiomycota in addition to the phyla that have FHbs. Unexpectedly, group 1 T globins were found in one Blastocladiomycota and one Chytridiomycota genome. Phylogenetic analyses were carried out on the fungal globins, alone and aligned with representative bacterial globins. The Saccharomycetes and Sordariomycetes with two FHbs form two widely divergent clusters separated by the remaining fungal sequences. One of the Saccharomycete groups represents a new subfamily of FHbs, comprising a previously unknown N-terminal and a FHb missing the C-terminal moiety of its reductase domain. The two Saccharomycete groups also form two clusters in the presence of bacterial FHbs; the surrounding bacterial sequences are dominated by Proteobacteria and Bacilli (Firmicutes). The remaining fungal FHbs cluster with Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. The Sgbs cluster separately from their bacterial counterparts, except for the intercalation of two Planctomycetes and a Proteobacterium between the Fungi incertae sedis and the Blastocladiomycota and Chytridiomycota.
Our results are compatible with a model of globin evolution put forward earlier, which proposed that eukaryote F, S and T globins originated via horizontal gene transfer of their bacterial counterparts to the eukaryote ancestor, resulting from the endosymbiotic events responsible for the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts.
PMCID: PMC3287990  PMID: 22384087
8.  High Resolution Crystal Structures of the Cerebratulus lacteus Mini-Hb in the Unligated and Carbomonoxy States 
The nerve tissue mini-hemoglobin from Cerebratulus lacteus (CerHb) displays an essential globin fold hosting a protein matrix tunnel held to allow traffic of small ligands to and from the heme. CerHb heme pocket hosts the distal TyrB10/GlnE7 pair, normally linked to low rates of O2 dissociation and ultra-high O2 affinity. However, CerHb affinity for O2 is similar to that of mammalian myoglobins, due to a dynamic equilibrium between high and low affinity states driven by the ability of ThrE11 to orient the TyrB10 OH group relative to the heme ligand. We present here the high resolution crystal structures of CerHb in the unligated and carbomonoxy states. Although CO binds to the heme with an orientation different from the O2 ligand, the overall binding schemes for CO and O2 are essentially the same, both ligands being stabilized through a network of hydrogen bonds based on TyrB10, GlnE7, and ThrE11. No dramatic protein structural changes are needed to support binding of the ligands, which can freely reach the heme distal site through the apolar tunnel. A lack of main conformational changes between the heme-unligated and -ligated states grants stability to the folded mini-Hb and is a prerequisite for fast ligand diffusion to/from the heme.
PMCID: PMC3430218  PMID: 22942687
nerve globin; crystal structure; heme reactivity; carbon monoxide; protein matrix tunnel
9.  Electron Transfer Function versus Oxygen Delivery: A Comparative Study for Several Hexacoordinated Globins Across the Animal Kingdom 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20478.
Caenorhabditis elegans globin GLB-26 (expressed from gene T22C1.2) has been studied in comparison with human neuroglobin (Ngb) and cytoglobin (Cygb) for its electron transfer properties. GLB-26 exhibits no reversible binding for O2 and a relatively low CO affinity compared to myoglobin-like globins. These differences arise from its mechanism of gaseous ligand binding since the heme iron of GLB-26 is strongly hexacoordinated in the absence of external ligands; the replacement of this internal ligand, probably the E7 distal histidine, is required before binding of CO or O2 as for Ngb and Cygb. Interestingly the ferrous bis-histidyl GLB-26 and Ngb, another strongly hexacoordinated globin, can transfer an electron to cytochrome c (Cyt-c) at a high bimolecular rate, comparable to those of inter-protein electron transfer in mitochondria. In addition, GLB-26 displays an unexpectedly rapid oxidation of the ferrous His-Fe-His complex without O2 actually binding to the iron atom, since the heme is oxidized by O2 faster than the time for distal histidine dissociation. These efficient mechanisms for electron transfer could indicate a family of hexacoordinated globin which are functionally different from that of pentacoordinated globins.
PMCID: PMC3106018  PMID: 21674044
10.  Globin-like proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans: in vivo localization, ligand binding and structural properties 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:17.
The genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contains more than 30 putative globin genes that all are transcribed. Although their translated amino acid sequences fit the globin fold, a variety of amino-acid substitutions and extensions generate a wide structural diversity among the putative globins. No information is available on the physicochemical properties and the in vivo expression.
We expressed the globins in a bacterial system, characterized the purified proteins by optical and resonance Raman spectroscopy, measured the kinetics and equilibria of O2 binding and determined the crystal structure of GLB-1* (CysGH2 → Ser mutant). Furthermore, we studied the expression patterns of glb-1 (ZK637.13) and glb-26 (T22C1.2) in the worms using green fluorescent protein technology and measured alterations of their transcript abundances under hypoxic conditions.GLB-1* displays the classical three-over-three α-helical sandwich of vertebrate globins, assembled in a homodimer associated through facing E- and F-helices. Within the heme pocket the dioxygen molecule is stabilized by a hydrogen bonded network including TyrB10 and GlnE7.GLB-1 exhibits high ligand affinity, which is, however, lower than in other globins with the same distal TyrB10-GlnE7 amino-acid pair. In the absence of external ligands, the heme ferrous iron of GLB-26 is strongly hexacoordinated with HisE7, which could explain its extremely low affinity for CO. This globin oxidizes instantly to the ferric form in the presence of oxygen and is therefore incapable of reversible oxygen binding.
The presented data indicate that GLB-1 and GLB-26 belong to two functionally-different globin classes.
PMCID: PMC2867796  PMID: 20361867
11.  Solution 1H NMR characterization of the axial bonding of the two His in oxidized human cytoglobin 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2006;128(39):12988-12999.
Solution 1H NMR spectroscopy has been used to determine the relative strengths (covalency) of the two axial His-Fe bonds in paramagnetic, S = 1/2, human met-cytoglobin. The sequence specific assignments of crucial portions of the proximal and distal helices, together with the magnitude of hyperfine shifts and paramagnetic relaxation, establish that His81 and His113, at the canonical positions E7 and F8 in the myoglobin fold, respectively, are ligated to the iron. The characterized complex (~90%) in solution has protohemin oriented as in crystals, with the remaining ~10% exhibiting the hemin orientation rotated 180° about the α-, γ-meso axis. No evidence could be obtained for any five-coordinate complex (<1%) in equilibrium with the six-coordinate complexes. Extensive sequence-specific assignments on other dipolar shifted helical fragments and loops, together with available alternate crystal coordinates for the complex, allowed the robust determination of the orientation and anisotropies of the paramagnetic susceptibility tensor. The tilt of the major axis is controlled by the His-Fe-His vector, and the rhombic axes by the mean of the imidazole orientations for the two His. The anisotropy of the paramagnetic susceptibility tensor allowed the quantitative factoring of the hyperfine shifts for the two axial His to reveal indistinguishable pattern and magnitudes of the contact shifts or π spin densities, and hence, indistinguishable Fe-imidazole covalency for both Fe-His bonds.
PMCID: PMC2566969  PMID: 17002396
cytoglobin; axial bond strength; contact shift; magnetic axes; magnetic anisotropy; hyperfine shifts
12.  The Caenorhabditis globin gene family reveals extensive nematode-specific radiation and diversification 
Globin isoforms with variant properties and functions have been found in the pseudocoel, body wall and cuticle of various nematode species and even in the eyespots of the insect-parasite Mermis nigrescens. In fact, much higher levels of complexity exist, as shown by recent whole genome analysis studies. In silico analysis of the genome of Caenorhabditis elegans revealed an unexpectedly high number of globin genes featuring a remarkable diversity in gene structure, amino acid sequence and expression profiles.
In the present study we have analyzed whole genomic data from C. briggsae, C. remanei, Pristionchus pacificus and Brugia malayi and EST data from several other nematode species to study the evolutionary history of the nematode globin gene family. We find a high level of conservation of the C. elegans globin complement, with even distantly related nematodes harboring orthologs to many Caenorhabditis globins. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis resolves all nematode globins into two distinct globin classes. Analysis of the globin intron-exon structures suggests extensive loss of ancestral introns and gain of new positions in deep nematode ancestors, and mainly loss in the Caenorhabditis lineage. We also show that the Caenorhabditis globin genes are expressed in distinct, mostly non-overlapping, sets of cells and that they are all under strong purifying selection.
Our results enable reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the globin gene family in the nematode phylum. A duplication of an ancestral globin gene occurred before the divergence of the Platyhelminthes and the Nematoda and one of the duplicated genes radiated further in the nematode phylum before the split of the Spirurina and Rhabditina and was followed by further radiation in the lineage leading to Caenorhabditis. The resulting globin genes were subject to processes of subfunctionalization and diversification leading to cell-specific expression patterns. Strong purifying selection subsequently dampened further evolution and facilitated fixation of the duplicated genes in the genome.
PMCID: PMC2576238  PMID: 18844991
13.  Transient Ligand Docking Sites in Cerebratulus lacteus Mini-Hemoglobin 
Gene  2007;398(1-2):208-223.
The monomeric hemoglobin of the nemertean worm Cerebratulus lacteus functions as an oxygen storage protein to maintain neural activity under hypoxic conditions. It shares a large, apolar matrix tunnel with other small hemoglobins, which has been implicated as a potential ligand migration pathway. Here we explore ligand migration and binding within the distal heme pocket, to which the tunnel provides access to ligands from the outside. FTIR/TDS experiments performed at cryogenic temperatures reveal the presence of three transient ligand docking sites within the distal pocket, the primary docking site B on top of pyrrole C and secondary sites C and D. Site C is assigned to a cavity adjacent to the distal portion of the heme pocket, surrounded by the B and E helices. It has an opening to the apolar tunnel and is expected to be on the pathway for ligand entry and exit, whereas site D, circumscribed by TyrB10, GlnE7, and the CD corner, most likely is located on a side pathway of ligand migration. Flash photolysis experiments at ambient temperatures indicate that the rate-limiting step for ligand binding to CerHb is migration through the apolar channel to site C. Movement from C to B and iron-ligand bond formation involve low energy barriers and thus are very rapid processes in the wt protein.
PMCID: PMC1986801  PMID: 17531406
Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy; photolysis; carbon monoxide; ligand migration
14.  Wide diversity in structure and expression profiles among members of the Caenorhabditis elegans globin protein family 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:356.
The emergence of high throughput genome sequencing facilities and powerful high performance bioinformatic tools has highlighted hitherto unexpected wide occurrence of globins in the three kingdoms of life. In silico analysis of the genome of C. elegans identified 33 putative globin genes. It remains a mystery why this tiny animal might need so many globins. As an inroad to understanding this complexity we initiated a structural and functional analysis of the globin family in C. elegans.
All 33 C. elegans putative globin genes are transcribed. The translated sequences have the essential signatures of single domain bona fide globins, or they contain a distinct globin domain that is part of a larger protein. All globin domains can be aligned so as to fit the globin fold, but internal interhelical and N- and C-terminal extensions and a variety of amino acid substitutions generate much structural diversity among the globins of C. elegans. Likewise, the encoding genes lack a conserved pattern of intron insertion positioning. We analyze the expression profiles of the globins during the progression of the life cycle, and we find that distinct subsets of globins are induced, or repressed, in wild-type dauers and in daf-2(e1370)/insulin-receptor mutant adults, although these animals share several physiological features including resistance to elevated temperature, oxidative stress and hypoxic death. Several globin genes are upregulated following oxygen deprivation and we find that HIF-1 and DAF-2 each are required for this response. Our data indicate that the DAF-2 regulated transcription factor DAF-16/FOXO positively modulates hif-1 transcription under anoxia but opposes expression of the HIF-1 responsive globin genes itself. In contrast, the canonical globin of C. elegans, ZK637.13, is not responsive to anoxia. Reduced DAF-2 signaling leads to enhanced transcription of this globin and DAF-16 is required for this effect.
We found that all 33 putative globins are expressed, albeit at low or very low levels, perhaps indicating cell-specific expression. They show wide diversity in gene structure and amino acid sequence, suggesting a long evolutionary history. Ten globins are responsive to oxygen deprivation in an interacting HIF-1 and DAF-16 dependent manner. Globin ZK637.13 is not responsive to oxygen deprivation and regulated by the Ins/IGF pathway only suggesting that this globin may contribute to the life maintenance program.
PMCID: PMC2228317  PMID: 17916248
15.  A phylogenomic profile of globins 
Globins occur in all three kingdoms of life: they can be classified into single-domain globins and chimeric globins. The latter comprise the flavohemoglobins with a C-terminal FAD-binding domain and the gene-regulating globin coupled sensors, with variable C-terminal domains. The single-domain globins encompass sequences related to chimeric globins and «truncated» hemoglobins with a 2-over-2 instead of the canonical 3-over-3 α-helical fold.
A census of globins in 26 archaeal, 245 bacterial and 49 eukaryote genomes was carried out. Only ~25% of archaea have globins, including globin coupled sensors, related single domain globins and 2-over-2 globins. From one to seven globins per genome were found in ~65% of the bacterial genomes: the presence and number of globins are positively correlated with genome size. Globins appear to be mostly absent in Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi, Chlamydia, Lactobacillales, Mollicutes, Rickettsiales, Pastorellales and Spirochaetes. Single domain globins occur in metazoans and flavohemoglobins are found in fungi, diplomonads and mycetozoans. Although red algae have single domain globins, including 2-over-2 globins, the green algae and ciliates have only 2-over-2 globins. Plants have symbiotic and nonsymbiotic single domain hemoglobins and 2-over-2 hemoglobins. Over 90% of eukaryotes have globins: the nematode Caenorhabditis has the most putative globins, ~33. No globins occur in the parasitic, unicellular eukaryotes such as Encephalitozoon, Entamoeba, Plasmodium and Trypanosoma.
Although Bacteria have all three types of globins, Archaeado not have flavohemoglobins and Eukaryotes lack globin coupled sensors. Since the hemoglobins in organisms other than animals are enzymes or sensors, it is likely that the evolution of an oxygen transport function accompanied the emergence of multicellular animals.
PMCID: PMC1457004  PMID: 16600051

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