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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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066144
PMCID: PMC3680402  PMID: 23776624
2.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048768
PMCID: PMC3520999  PMID: 23251335
3.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033614
PMCID: PMC3313925  PMID: 22479420
4.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020478
PMCID: PMC3106018  PMID: 21674044
5.  Globin-like proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans: in vivo localization, ligand binding and structural properties 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:17.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
The presented data indicate that GLB-1 and GLB-26 belong to two functionally-different globin classes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-11-17
PMCID: PMC2867796  PMID: 20361867

Results 1-5 (5)