Home :: Project11

Unraveling the Reaction between Heme (FeIV=O) Moiety and H2S: The Sulfhemoglobin Scenario


The peroxidative reactions of hemoglobin (Hb) and myoglobin (Mb) with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produce porphyrin π-cation radical ferryl compound I (FeIV=O Por●+) and ferryl compound II (FeIV=O Por), which are very reactive and detrimental to red cells. At the same time, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) entering the blood stream, by environmental exposure or bacterial infections, can interact with these species leading to the formation of sulfhemoglobin (sulfHb) and sulfmyoglobin (sulfMb) with the subsequent disruption of Hb and Mb function. These inactive proteins, whose specific heme intermediates and reaction mechanism are still unknown, are characterized by a protoheme IX chlorin derivative with an absorption band at the 620 nm region, bearing the saturated 4-vinyl group with a H2S covalently bound across the β-β double bond of the pyrrole “C”. Our latest data show that under the same experimental conditions, of H2O2 and H2S, the hemoglobins I, II and III, (HbI and HbII/HbIII, respectively), from Lucina pectinata do not form these sulfheme derivatives. HbI delivers H2S, while HbII and HbIII transport O2 to symbiotic bacteria, despite the diversity in function and chemical structure no sulfheme-proteins derivatives have been detected in the L. pectinata clam. This discrimination is not understood and will be used as a model to comprehend the mechanism toward sulfHb and sulfMb since the formation sulfHbI and sulfHbII/sulfHbIII should proceed via the same high valent heme intermediates generated by the reaction with H2O2 and H2S according to:

click zoom

Other notable difference between HbI and Mb is that the ferryl compound I is near one thousand times more stable in the former than in the latter. Thus, our hypothesis suggests that the mechanism of sulfhemeprotein

formation may depends on (1) the amino acid environment surrounding the heme center, (2) the life time of the ferryl species (compound I and II), and (3) the orientation and structure of the peripheral heme substituents. To explore these alternatives, we will monitor the bands at 648 nm, 620 nm, and 419 nm characteristic of HbI compound I, sulfHbI, and compound II, respectively, by UV-Vis and stopped flow, upon the reaction (A) of hemeproteins (Mb, HbI, HbI mutants, and HbII/HbIII). The intermediate and final structures will be pursued by resonance Raman, NMR and X-ray spectroscopy. The data will allow commenting on (i) the role of compound I and II in the formation of human sulfHb and sulfMb, (ii) unravel the selectivity of H2S for the pyrrole “C” reaction , and (iii) contribute to the development of direct strategies for the treatment and reversibility of sulfHb or sulfMb to the biological active human Hb and Mb.


De Jesús-Bonilla W, Jia J, Alayash AI, López Garriga J.
The heme pocket geometry of Lucina pectinata hemoglobin II restricts nitric oxide and peroxide entry: model of ligand control for the design of a stable oxygen carrier.
Biochemistry. 2007; 46: 10451-10460.

Gavira JA, Camara-Artigas A, De Jesús-Bonilla W, López-Garriga J, Lewis A, Pietri R, Yeh SR, Cadilla CL, García-Ruiz JM.
"Structure and ligand selection of hemoglobin II from Lucina pectinata."
Biochim et Biophys Acta. 2006 Apr;1764(4):758-65. Epub 2005 Dec 12.

Rivera, L. Lopez-Garriga, J., Cadilla, C.L.
"Characterization of the full length mRNA coding for L. pectinata HbIII revealed an alternative polyadenylation site"
Biochim et Biophys Acta. 2006 Apr;1764(4):758-65. Epub 2005 Dec 12.

Phone: (787) 834 3165
Fax: (787) 834-3165
e-mail: mbrs[AT]uprm[dot]edu
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
Research and Development Center
Main Building, Office 210
Mayaguez, PR