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Interactions of Haptoglobin with Monomeric Globin Species: Insights from Molecular Modeling and Native Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

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journal contribution
posted on 03.03.2016, 00:00 by Ololade Fatunmbi, Rinat R. Abzalimov, Sergey N. Savinov, Anne Gershenson, Igor A. Kaltashov
Haptoglobin (Hp) binds free hemoglobin (Hb) dimers to prevent negative consequences of Hb circulation in the extracellular environment. Although both monomeric Hb and myoglobin (Mb) species also present potential risks, their interactions with Hp have not been extensively studied. Mb is homologous to both the α- and β-chains of Hb and shares many conserved Hb/Hp interface residues, yet whether Hp binds Mb remains unclear. To address this, computational biology tools were used to predict the interactions required for Hp to bind monomeric globins, and the predicted association was tested using native electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). The Hb/Hp crystal structure was used as the template to create molecular models of two Mb molecules bound to an Hp heterodimer (Mb2/Hp). Molecular modeling suggests that Mb can bind at the Hp α-chain binding site, where 73% of the globin/Hp interactions are conserved. By contrast, several ionic β-chain residues involved in complementary electrostatic interactions with Hp correspond to residues with the opposite charge in Mb, suggesting unfavorable electrostatic Hp/Mb interactions at the β-chain binding site. As shown by native ESI-MS, isolated monomeric Hbα subunits can form 2:1 complexes with Hp heterotetramers in the absence of Hb β-chains. Native ESI-MS also confirmed that Mb can bind to Hp heterotetramers in solution with stoichiometries of 1:1 and 2:1 at physiological pH and ionic strength. The affinity of Hp for Mb appears to be diminished relative to that of Hb α-chains. Our in silico experiments rationalize this change and demonstrate that molecular modeling of protein/protein interactions is a valuable aid for MS experiments.