Ibuprofen induces an allosteric conformational transition in the heme complex of human serum albumin with significant effects on heme ligation

Francesco P. Nicoletti, Barry D. Howes, Maria Fittipaldi, Gabriella Fanali, Mauro Fasano, Paolo Ascenzi, Giulietta Smulevich

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Human serum albumin (HSA), the most prominent protein in blood plasma, is able to bind a wide range of endogenous and exogenous compounds. Among the endogenous ligands, HSA is a significant transporter of heme, the heme-HSA complex being present in blood plasma. Drug binding to heme-HSA affects allosterically the heme affinity for HSA and vice versa. Heme-HSA, heme, and their complexes with ibuprofen have been characterized by electronic absorption, resonance Raman, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. Comparison of the results for the heme and heme-HSA systems has provided insight into the structural consequences on the heme pocket of ibuprofen binding. The pentacoordinate tyrosine-bound heme coordination of heme-HSA, observed in the absence of ibuprofen, becomes hexacoordinate low spin upon ibuprofen binding, and heme dissociates at increasing drug levels. The electronic absorption spectrum and ν(Fe-CO)/ν(CO) vibrational frequencies of the CO-heme-HSA-ibuprofen complex, together with the observation of a Fe-His Raman mode at 218 cm-1 upon photolysis of the CO complex and the low spin EPR g values indicate that a His residue is one of the low spin axial ligands, the sixth ligand probably being Tyr161. The only His residue in the vicinity of the heme Fe atom is His146, 9 Å distant in the absence of the drug. This indicates that drug binding to heme-HSA results in a significant rearrangement of the heme pocket, implying that the conformational adaptability of HSA involves more than the immediate vicinity of the drug binding site. As a whole, the present spectroscopic investigation supports the notion that HSA could be considered as the prototype of monomeric allosteric proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11677-11688
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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