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1.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049770
PMCID: PMC3537629  PMID: 23308092
2.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044508
PMCID: PMC3513292  PMID: 23226490
3.  Following Ligand Migration Pathways from Picoseconds to Milliseconds in Type II Truncated Hemoglobin from Thermobifida fusca 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39884.
CO recombination kinetics has been investigated in the type II truncated hemoglobin from Thermobifida fusca (Tf-trHb) over more than 10 time decades (from 1 ps to ∼100 ms) by combining femtosecond transient absorption, nanosecond laser flash photolysis and optoacoustic spectroscopy. Photolysis is followed by a rapid geminate recombination with a time constant of ∼2 ns representing almost 60% of the overall reaction. An additional, small amplitude geminate recombination was identified at ∼100 ns. Finally, CO pressure dependent measurements brought out the presence of two transient species in the second order rebinding phase, with time constants ranging from ∼3 to ∼100 ms. The available experimental evidence suggests that the two transients are due to the presence of two conformations which do not interconvert within the time frame of the experiment. Computational studies revealed that the plasticity of protein structure is able to define a branched pathway connecting the ligand binding site and the solvent. This allowed to build a kinetic model capable of describing the complete time course of the CO rebinding kinetics to Tf-trHb.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039884
PMCID: PMC3391200  PMID: 22792194
4.  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
5.  Low affinity PEGylated hemoglobin from Trematomus bernacchii, a model for hemoglobin-based blood substitutes 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:66.
Background
Conjugation of human and animal hemoglobins with polyethylene glycol has been widely explored as a means to develop blood substitutes, a novel pharmaceutical class to be used in surgery or emergency medicine. However, PEGylation of human hemoglobin led to products with significantly different oxygen binding properties with respect to the unmodified tetramer and high NO dioxygenase reactivity, known causes of toxicity. These recent findings call for the biotechnological development of stable, low-affinity PEGylated hemoglobins with low NO dioxygenase reactivity.
Results
To investigate the effects of PEGylation on protein structure and function, we compared the PEGylation products of human hemoglobin and Trematomus bernacchii hemoglobin, a natural variant endowed with a remarkably low oxygen affinity and high tetramer stability. We show that extension arm facilitated PEGylation chemistry based on the reaction of T. bernacchii hemoglobin with 2-iminothiolane and maleimido-functionalyzed polyethylene glycol (MW 5000 Da) leads to a tetraPEGylated product, more homogeneous than the corresponding derivative of human hemoglobin. PEGylated T. bernacchii hemoglobin largely retains the low affinity of the unmodified tetramer, with a p50 50 times higher than PEGylated human hemoglobin. Moreover, it is still sensitive to protons and the allosteric effector ATP, indicating the retention of allosteric regulation. It is also 10-fold less reactive towards nitrogen monoxide than PEGylated human hemoglobin.
Conclusions
These results indicate that PEGylated hemoglobins, provided that a suitable starting hemoglobin variant is chosen, can cover a wide range of oxygen-binding properties, potentially meeting the functional requirements of blood substitutes in terms of oxygen affinity, tetramer stability and NO dioxygenase reactivity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2091-12-66
PMCID: PMC3268738  PMID: 22185675

Results 1-5 (5)