Self-association and oxygen-binding characteristics of the isolated subunits of Limulus polyphemus hemocyanin

Michael Brenowitz, Celia Bonaventura, Joseph Bonaventura

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28 Scopus citations


The hemocyanin of the horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus is characteristic of arthropod hemocyanins in that it is a high-molecular-weight oligomer composed of functionally and structurally distinct subunits. The protein forms a 48-subunit complex, the largest form of arthropod hemocyanin, whose oxygen-binding characteristics are modulated by subunit interaction within the oligomer. It has previously been shown that a number of electrophoretic isozymes, which are identical immunochemically, are present in dissociated Limulus hemocyanin. In this study it is demonstrated that the electrophoretic differences in the antigenically identical subunits are not reflected in their oxygen-binding and self-assembly properties or in the roles they play in reassembly and function of the 48-subunit native molecule. The chloride-dependent modulation of the oxygen-binding properties of those Limulus subunits which do not self-assemble, as documented here, illustrates that this allosteric effect may be operable at the tertiary level. For each of the purified subunits the effects of pH and calcium ions on oxygen-binding characteristics and self-assembly reactions are reported, and the roles of specific subunits in reassembly of distinct aggregation states are further documented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-249
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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