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Proteins, Peptides and Amino Acids

  1. Gino Amiconi,
  2. Maurizio Brunori

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200400069

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Amiconi, G. and Brunori, M. 2006. Hemoglobin. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

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Hemoglobin (Hb) is the generic name for a vital protein, basic to oxygen (O2) metabolism of all vertebrates, some invertebrates, and plants that perform nitrogen fixation. The only vertebrates that survive without Hb in their blood are antarctic fishes (such as Chaenocephalus aceratus Lonnberg ) that bear the Hb genes but do not express the proteins. Structural and functional properties of Hb vary widely in the different species, according to physiological requirements. The multifaceted behavior of Hb has challenged the interest of many scientists with different backgrounds (biochemists, physiologists, geneticists, and biophysicists), who have investigated this protein from extremely diverse points of view (from the quantum chemistry of the heme iron to the unloading of O2 into the swim bladder of fish, thus regulating the creature's buoyancy). Increasing concern over viral contamination of blood is spurring the development of a blood substitute; solutions of chemically modified hemoglobin represent one option.

Moreover, Hb exhibits biochemical and biophysical phenomena similar to those of many multisubunit enzymes in their interactions with substrates and cofactors. Hb, therefore, has been the prototype used to do such fundamental work in biochemistry as determining the mechanisms by which different parts of proteins communicate (i.e. the structural basis of cooperativity and allostery). It is not, therefore, surprising that tetrameric Hb has been called the hydrogen molecule of biochemistry because understanding its functions is so basic to protein chemistry at large; the hydrogen atom has been considered as myoglobin (Mb), the monomeric hemoprotein contained in red muscles.


  • Allosteric Protein;
  • Blood Substitutes;
  • Bohr Effect;
  • Cooperativity;
  • Geminate Recombination;
  • Kinetics and Mechanism;
  • Molecular Diseases;
  • Molecular Evolution