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Stoeckelhuber, M.; Gorr, T.; Kleinschmidt, T. (2002): The primary structure of three hemoglobin chains from the indigo snake (Drymarchon corais erebennus, Serpentes): First evidence for αD chains and two β chain types in snakes. In: Biological Chemistry, Vol. 383, No. 12: pp. 1907-1916


The hemoglobin of the indigo snake (Drymarchon corais erebennus, Colubrinae) consists of two components, HbA and HbD, in the ratio of 1:1. They differ in both their alpha and beta chains. The amino acid sequences of both alpha chains (alpha(A) and alpha(D)) and one beta chain (betaI) were determined. The presence of an alpha(D)chain in a snake hemoglobin is described for the first time. A comparison of all snake beta chain sequences revealed the existence of two paralogous beta chain types in snakes as well, which are designated as betaI and betaII type. For the discussion of the physiological properties of Drymarchon hemoglobin, the sequences were compared with those of the human alpha and beta chains and those of the closely related water snake Liophis miliaris where functional data are available. Among the heme contacts, the substitution alpha(D)58(E7)His-->Gln is unusual but most likely without any effect. The residues responsible for the main part of the Bohr effect are the same as in mammalian hemoglobins. In each of the three globin chains only two residues at positions involved in the alpha1/beta2 interface contacts, most important for the stability and the properties of the hemoglobin molecule, are substituted with regard to human hemoglobin. On the contrary, nine, eleven, and six alpha1/beta1 contact residues are replaced in the alpha(A), alpha(D), betaI chains, respectively.