A structural model for the kinetic behavior of hemoglobin

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Science  30 Nov 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4422, pp. 1035-1042
DOI: 10.1126/science.493990


The tertiary structures of all liganded hemoglobins in the R state differ in detail. Steric hindrance arising from nonbonded ligand-globin interactions affects the binding of ligands such as CO and cyanide which preferentially form linear axial complexes to heme; these ligands bind in a strained off-axis configuration. Ligands such as O2 and NO, which preferentially form bent complexes, encounter less steric hindrance and can bind in their (preferred) unstrained configuration. Linear complexes distort the ligand pockets in the R state (and by inference, in the T state) more than bent complexes. These structural differences between linear and bent complexes are reflected in the kinetic behavior of hemoglobin. Structural interpretation of this kinetic behavior indicates that the relative contributions of nonbonded ligand-globin interactions and nonbonded heme interactions to transition state free energies differ for linear and bent ligands. The relative contributions of these interactions to the free energy of cooperativity may also differ for linear and bent ligands. Thus the detailed molecular mechanism by which the affinity of heme is regulated differs for different ligands.