O-R-polyHbA0 is an intra- and intermolecularly O-raffinose cross-linked derivative of deoxygenated human haemoglobin developed as an oxygen therapeutic. When compared with its native protein (HbA0), O-R-polyHbA0 was found to be locked in the T (tense) quaternary conformation with a lower oxygen affinity, a reduced Bohr effect (50% of HbA0) and no measurable cooperativity (h=1). The kinetics of oxygen and CO binding to the protein indicate lower ‘on’ rates and faster ‘off’ rates than HbA0 and the absence of effects of inositol hexaphosphate (IHP) on the kinetics. Other properties consistent with a T-like conformation are inaccessibility of the βCys-93 thiol group of O-R-polyHbA0, the hyperfine splitting from nitrogen in the EPR spectrum of the Fe(II)NO complex of O-R-polyHbA0 and decreased flexibility in the distal haem pocket, as indicated by low-spin bis-histidine complexes detected by EPR of oxidized chains. A comparison of the properties of O-R-polyHbA0 with those of HbA0 with and without IHP, as well as the reaction of nitrite with deoxygenated haemoglobin, provide additional insights into the variations in the conformation of T-state haemoglobin in solution (modifications of the T state produced by adding organic phosphates, like IHP and 2,3-diphosphoglycerate). Although the physiological ramifications of locking HbA0 in the T conformation with the O-raffinose are still unknown, valuable insights into haemoglobin function are provided by these studies of O-R-polyHbA0.

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