Chimeric hemoglobins - Hybrids of human and swine hemoglobin: Assembly and stability of interspecies hybrids

M. Janardhan Rao, Belur N. Manjula, Ramesh Kumar, A. Seetharama Acharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Transgenic swine expressing human HbA contained only one of two types of the anticipated interspecies hybrids, namely (H)α2(P)β2 (H = human, P = swine). In an attempt to establish whether the absence of the swine α and human β ((P)α2(H)β2) hybrid in vivo is a reflection of the lack of complementarity between the interspecies chains to generate appropriate interfaces, we have undertaken the in vitro assembly of swine α and human β chimeric tetramer. In contrast to the in vivo transgenic swine system, in vitro the hybrid of swine α human β chain is assembled readily and the hybrid exhibits normal cooperative oxygen binding. Both the swine α human β and the human α swine β interspecies hybrids are stable around neutral pH and do not segregate into parent tetramers even when mixed together. On the other hand, nearly complete exchange of (P)α chain of (P)α2(H)β2 hybrid occurs in the presence of (H)α chain at pH 6.0 and room temperature, resulting in the formation of HbA. However, very little of such an exchange reaction takes place at pH 7.0. These results suggest that the thermodynamic stability of (P)α2(H)β2 hybrid is lower compared to that of HbA. In contrast, (P)β chain of (H)α2(P)β2 hybrid is refractory to exchange with (H)β chain at pH 7.0 as well as at pH 6.0, suggesting that the stability of (H)α2(P)β2 is higher compared to that of HbA ((H)α2(H)β2). The swine α human β chimeric Hb undergoes subunit exchange reaction with human α- chain in the presence of 0.9 M MgCl2, at pH 7.0. This demonstrates the lower thermodynamic stability of the intradimeric interactions of the heterodimer even at neutral pH. A synergistic coupling of the intra- and interdimeric interactions of the swine α and human β chain heterodimer is essential for the thermodynamic stability of the chimeric Hb under the physiological conditions. Accordingly, we speculate that the lower thermodynamic stability of (P)α(H)β heterodimer (compared to the homodimers (H)α(H)β and (P)α(P)β) facilitates its segregation into the homodimers by subunit exchange reaction involving either (H)α or (P)β. This molecular aspect by itself or possibly along with other cellular aspects of the swine system results in the absence of (P)α2(H)β2 hybrid in transgenic swine expressing HbA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-965
Number of pages10
JournalProtein Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • assembly
  • long-range communication
  • subunit exchange
  • synergy
  • transgenic Hb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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