Our previous extended-X-ray-absorption-fine-structure (e.x.a.f.s.) study has shown that the probable iron environment in chicken ovotransferrin involves two low-Z ligands (consistent with phenolate linkages) at 0.185(1) nm and four low-Z ligands at 0.204(1) nm [Garratt, Evans, Hasnain & Lindley (1986) Biochem. J. 233, 479-484]. Herein we provide additional information from the e.x.a.f.s. and near-edge structure suggestive of a decrease in the co-ordination number of ovotransferrin-bound iron upon freeze-drying. These effects are reversible, and exposure of the freeze-dried material to a humid atmosphere results in reversion to the solution spectra. Progressive rehydration was monitored by using e.p.r. spectroscopy and was confirmed by recording the high-resolution X-ray-absorption near-edge structure (x.a.n.e.s.). The results suggest the presence of a labile water molecule at the iron-binding sites of ovotransferrin in solution.

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