Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hemoglobin uncovered

Researchers at the BSC and the IRB Barcelona unveil crucial information about the protein transporter of oxygen, which opens up the possibility to optimize its function by introducing modifications. The study is published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The transport of oxygen in blood is undertaken by hemoglobin, the largest component of red blood cells. This protein collects oxygen in respiratory organs, mainly in the lungs, and releases it in tissues in order to generate the energy necessary for cell survival. Hemoglobin is one of the most refined proteins because its evolution and small mutations in its structure can produce anaemia and other severe pathologies.

The investigation led by Víctor Guallar, ICREA researcher with the Life Sciences department of the Barcelona Supecomputing Center (BSC) and group leader of the Joint Computational Biology Programme between the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the BSC, has allowed the definition at atomic level of the mechanism that regulates the exchange of lung oxygen to hemoglobin and from hemoglobin to tissue. The results of this study are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More than a hundred years of study have led to the knowledge that hemoglobin uses mechanisms of cooperativity to optimize its function; that is to say, to collect the greatest amount of oxygen possible in the lungs and release it in tissues. These mechanisms of cooperativity are related to changes in the structure of the hemoglobin protein. However, due to the complexity of the system, until now it has not been possible to determine the microscopic mechanisms that guide this process. Consequently, this lack of information has been a serious limitation in drug design and the development of artificial forms that are more effective than the protein.

... more about:
»blood »hemoglobin »mechanism

Víctor Guallar explains that "this study has provided detailed knowledge of the mechanisms that regulate the affinity of hemoglobin, which is crucial to understand, for example, the effects caused by mutations on its structure. Thus, we have obtained basic data on the relation between mutation and disease, which will allow the development of more specific treatments".

Using sophisticated atomic calculation techniques, which combine quantum and classical mechanics, Guallar’s team has determined how, against what was commonly accepted, the affinity for oxygen appears to be controlled by interactions that are relatively distant from the active centre of the protein and that are directly involved in the structural changes responsible for cooperativity. Raúl Alcantara, first author of the study and a member of Guallar’s group points out that "having access to the enormous calculation capacity of the MaresNostrum supercomputer allows more precise simulations, which are closer to what happens in real life".

The results of this study open up vast possibilities for the engineering of this crucial protein. Having identified the factors that regulate the affinity of hemoglobin, alterations of its structure can now be designed. Likewise, the microscopic knowledge about the mechanisms of action of haemoglobin will improve our understanding of the effects of diverse mutations of this protein.

Reference article:
A quantum-chemical picture of hemoglobin affinity
R. E. Alcantara, C. Xu, T. G. Spiro, and V. Guallar.
Proc. Nac. Academy of Sciences USA (2007) (doi 10.1073/pnas.0706206104)

Sonia Armengou | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: blood hemoglobin mechanism

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>