The following factors were measured for extracellular haemoglobins of Artemia salina: a minimal molecular weight of globin chain per haem group (based on the iron and haem contents), the absorption coefficients, the absorption spectra of various derivatives and the amino acid compositions. These were compared with those of the haemoglobins of other invertebrates. Three Artemia haemoglobins (I, II and III) had similar molecular structures, constructed from two-globin subunits of 122000-130000mol.wt. Since the minimal mol.wt. was determined to be 18000, this suggests that one globin subunit was bound by seven haem groups, and hence one haemoglobin molecule (240000-260000mol.wt.) should contain 14 haem groups. A successful identification of this high-molecular-weight subunit required first the denaturation of haemoglobin in 1% sodium dodecyl sulphate before sodium dodecyl sulphate gel electrophoresis. Denaturation by prolonged incubation (12-36 h) at room temperature in the presence of 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulphate [Bowen, Moise, Waring & Poon (1976) Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B55, 99-103] was accompanied by extensive proteolysis, resulting in low recovery of the stainable protein and heterogeneous gel patterns. Regardless of which electrophoretic system was used, the high-molecular-weight subunit was always present provided that 1% sodium dodecyl sulphate was present during denaturation. These results contrast with those obtained by Bowen et al. (1976). However, preferential cleavage of the globin subunit (alpha) seemed to occur in vitro when standard conditions were used, producing two specific fragments having mol.wts. of 80000 (beta) and 50000 (gamma).

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