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1.  Structural Bases for the Regulation of CO Binding in the Archaeal Protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0125959.
Studies of CO ligand binding revealed that two protein states with different ligand affinities exist in the protoglobin from Methanosarcina acetivorans (in MaPgb*, residue Cys(E20)101 was mutated to Ser). The switch between the two states occurs upon the ligation of MaPgb*. In this work, site-directed mutagenesis was used to explore the role of selected amino acids in ligand sensing and stabilization and in affecting the equilibrium between the “more reactive” and “less reactive” conformational states of MaPgb*. A combination of experimental data obtained from electronic and resonance Raman absorption spectra, CO ligand-binding kinetics, and X-ray crystallography was employed. Three amino acids were assigned a critical role: Trp(60)B9, Tyr(61)B10, and Phe(93)E11. Trp(60)B9 and Tyr(61)B10 are involved in ligand stabilization in the distal heme pocket; the strength of their interaction was reflected by the spectra of the CO-ligated MaPgb* and by the CO dissociation rate constants. In contrast, Phe(93)E11 is a key player in sensing the heme-bound ligand and promotes the rotation of the Trp(60)B9 side chain, thus favoring ligand stabilization. Although the structural bases of the fast CO binding rate constant of MaPgb* are still unclear, Trp(60)B9, Tyr(61)B10, and Phe(93)E11 play a role in regulating heme/ligand affinity.
PMCID: PMC4457829  PMID: 26047471
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3313925  PMID: 22479420
4.  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

Results 1-4 (4)