Crystallography Journals Online : IUCR Backfile Archive 1948-2001
Chemistry and Pharmacology
A variety of human haemoglobins (Hbs) are produced at different stages of human development, including three embryonic Hbs, foetal Hb and adult Hb. All are heterotetramers. During crystallization experiments on human embryonic Hb Portland (ζ2γ2), it was discovered by crystallographic and biochemical analysis that the homotetramer Hb Bart's (γ4) preferentially crystallizes from ζ2γ2 solutions below pH 5. This results from dissociation of Hb Portland into γ2 dimers and ζ monomers and has interesting implications for subunit interactions and tetramer stability in Hbs. It also makes possible a full crystallographic analysis of Hb Bart's, which is of considerable medical significance because of its presence in the red blood cells of millions of people worldwide who suffer from α-thalassaemia.
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