Authors : Das R, Mitra A, Bhat V, Mandal AK
Publication Year : 2017
Sickle hemoglobin (HbS) polymerization initiates in the deoxy state with the binding of hydrophobic patch formed by the isopropyl group of ßVal6 residue of a hemoglobin tetramer with the hydrophobic pocket of another tetramer, whose hydrophobic patch binds to the hydrophobic groove of a third molecule. Subsequent elongation of a single stranded polymer followed by the formation of a double strand and finally combination of seven such pairs of double strands results in a fourteen stranded fibrous polymer. Precipitation of this fiber inside the erythrocytes results in sickling of red blood cells. Surprisingly, the polymerization does not occur in the oxy state of HbS. Due to the unavailability of crystal structure of oxy form of HbS, the molecular basis of inhibition of polymerization in the oxy state is unknown to date. In the present study, we have attempted to understand the molecular mechanism of inhibition of polymerization by exploiting the exchange of backbone amide hydrogens of HbS with deuterated solvent. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange kinetics of peptide amide hydrogens of both oxy and deoxy form of HbS were monitored through ESI mass spectrometry. Upon oxygenation changes in the conformational flexibility across different regions of ? and ß globin chains in the tetrameric HbS molecule were investigated. It was observed that oxygenation led to perturbation in the conformation of several residues around the hydrophobic patch, groove of a tetramer and axial, lateral contacts across the double strands that are involved in HbS polymerization.