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Hemoglobin Bohr Effects: Atomic Origin of the Histidine Residue Contributions

Zheng, Guishan, Schaefer, Michael, Karplus, Martin
Biochemistry 2013 v.52 no.47 pp. 8539-8555
electrostatic interactions, equations, hemoglobin, histidine, oxygen, pH
The Bohr effect in hemoglobin, which refers to the dependence of the oxygen affinity on the pH, plays an important role in its cooperativity and physiological function. The dominant contribution to the Bohr effect arises from the difference in the pKₐ values of His residues of the unliganded (deoxy) and liganded (carbonmonoxy) structures. Using recent high resolution structures, the residue pKₐ values corresponding to the two structures are calculated. The method is based on determining the electrostatic interactions between residues in the protein, relative to those of the residue in solution, by use of the linearized finite difference Poisson–Boltzmann equation and Monte Carlo sampling of protonation states. Given that good agreement is obtained with the available experimental values for the contribution of His residues in HbA to the Bohr effect, the calculated results are used to determine the atomic origin of the pKₐ shift between deoxy and carbonmonoxy HbA. The contributions to the pKₐ shift calculated by means of the linear response approximation show that the salt bridge involving His146 plays an important role in the alkaline Bohr effect, as suggested by Perutz but that other interactions are significant as well. A corresponding analysis is made for the contribution of His143 to the acid Bohr effect for which there is no proposed explanation. The method used is summarized and the program by which it is implemented is described in the Appendix.