Subunits composition and allosteric control in Carcinus aestuarii hemocyanin

Enrico Dainese, Paolo Di Muro, Mariano Beltramini, Benedetto Salvato, Heinz Decker

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Carcinus aestuarii hemocyanin (Hc) exists in two aggregation forms at pH 7.5 and 20 mM Ca2+: 24S accounting for 90% of total hemocyanin and 16S accounting for 10%. Removal of metal cations by EDTA at neutral pH causes the complete dissociation of 24S hemocyanin into two different 16S. At pH 9.2, 24S hemocyanin dissociates into a pH stable 16S and a 5S component. The 5S component consists of three monomeric fractions named CaeSS1 (10%), CaeSS2 (50%) and CaeSS3 (40%); the latter fraction consisting of two isoforms. The fractions CaeSS1, CaeSS2 and CaeSS3 have been studied as far as their reassociation properties to form hexamers are concerned. We investigated the oxygen-binding properties of the native form (24S), the mixture of the two 16S forms, the pH-stable 16S alone and of purified subunit fractions to define the role of each species on the expression of the allosteric behaviour of the 24S aggregate. The analysis of O2-binding data reveals that 24S-Hc can be well described by the modified Monod Wyman and Changeaux-model (nested MWC-model), while the half-molecules (16S) bind oxygen according to the simple MWC-model. The two hexameric 16S within the dodecameric 24S hemocyanin can be regarded as nested allosteric units. They behave as being functionally coupled in the T-states (tT and rT). In the R-states (tR and rR) the two half-molecules seem to be functionally uncoupled since they have the same values of oxygen binding constants as deduced for isolated 16S hexamers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Allostery
  • Hemocyanin
  • Heterogeneity
  • Nesting
  • Oxygen binding
  • Subunit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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