Mukhi, Nitika; Dhindwal, Sonali; Uppal, Sheetal; Kapoor, Abhijeet; Arya, Richa; Kumar, Pravindra; Kaur, Jagreet; Kundu, Suman
Structural and Functional Significance of the N- and C-Terminal Appendages in Arabidopsis Truncated Hemoglobin
BIOCHEMISTRY, 55:1724-1740, MAR 29 2016

Plant hemoglobins constitute three distinct groups: symbiotic, nonsymbiotic, and truncated hemoglobins. Structural investigation of symbiotic and nonsymbiotic (class I) hemoglobins revealed the presence of a vertebrate-like 3/3 globin fold in these proteins. In contrast, plant truncated hemoglobins are similar to bacterial truncated hemoglobins with a putative 2/2 alpha-helical globin fold. While multiple structures have been reported for plant hemoglobins of the first two categories, for plant truncated globins only one structure has been reported of late. Here, we report yet another crystal structure of the truncated hemoglobin from Arabidopsis thaliana (AHb3) with two water molecules in the heme pocket, of which one is distinctly coordinated to the heme iron, unlike the only available crystal structure of AHb3 with a hydroxyl ligand. AHb3 was monomeric in its crystallographic asymmetric unit; however, dimer was evident in the crystallographic symmetry, and the globin indeed existed as a stable dimer in solution. The tertiary structure of the protein exhibited a bacterial-like 2/2 alpha-helical globin fold with an additional N-terminal alpha-helical extension and disordered C-termini. To address the role of these extended termini in AHb3, which is yet unknown, N- and C-terminal deletion mutants were created and characterized and molecular dynamics simulations performed. The C-terminal deletion had an insignificant effect on most properties but perturbed the dimeric equilibrium of AHb3 and significantly influenced azide binding kinetics in the ferric state. These results along with the disordered nature of the C-terminus indicated its putative role in intramolecular or intermolecular interactions probably regulating protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions. While the N-terminal deletion did not change the overall globin fold, stability, or ligand binding kinetics, it seemed to have influenced coordination at the heme iron, the hydration status of the active site, and the quaternary structure of AHb3. Evidence indicated that the N-terminus is the predominant factor regulating the quaternary interaction appropriate to physiological requirements, dynamics of the side chains in the heme pocket, and tunnel organization in the protein matrix.


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