First Advisor

David H. Peyton

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Sciences and Resources: Chemistry


Environmental Science and Management




Myoglobin, Ligand binding (Chemistry), Hemoglobin



Physical Description

3, xix, 208 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


This work focuses on pigmy sperm whale and horse myoglobins (Mbs), which are distinguished by a single heme pocket residue variant in the CD3 position, when the heme iron is in the +3 oxidation state (i.e. the met form). The strategy employed is as follows: (i) assign heme peripheral protons; (ii) assign the amino acid residues from the heme cavity; (iii) assess the dynamics of ligand binding in the active site by means of hydrogen Iability, solvent isotope effects, and heme-insertion isomer trapping, all by NMR methods. The results of these studies portray dynamic solution structure of the Mb ligand binding site, and provide a set of standard parameters for the studies of larger hemoproteins. The findings are also important for understanding protein-ligand interactions in general. My research investigates the mixed spin metazido and metimidazole complexes of Mbs for the following reasons. First, the allosteric properties of hemoglobin arise mainly from the transition between its two possible quaternary structures. This can be studied by paramagnetic NMR because it is one of the most sensitive tools in terms of changes in the molecular and/or electronic structure of the heme. Second, both the N₃- and imidazole (lm-) complexes are good compromises, in terms of sizes, between the small diatomic oxygen or CN⁻ molecules and the bulky phenyl group. Thus, we can determine the influence of ligand size on structural perturbation of the Heme crevice by comparison among the different size groups. Third, the saturation-transfer phenomenon between metMbIm and metMbH₂0 provides a route to assignments in metMbH₂0 by using assignments of metMbIm. This is crucial because metMbH₂0 is the basis of theoretical calculations of the isotropic shift due to axial ligand field in pure high-spin hemoproteins. Finally, the importance of the metMbIm is underscored by the fact that it is a bis-imidazolium complex, which can then serve as a model other bis-histidyl proteins. Most of the heme peripheral resonances of metEqMbIm and metEqMbN₃ were identified by means of two-dimensional NOESY,COSY, and EXSY spectroscopy. The strongly relaxed upfield protons in metMbIm were assigned based on steady-state 1D NOE and T₁ experiments. Based on the results from metMblm in which saturation transfer of one upfield resonance led to two different free ligand peaks, bound Im equilibration was envisioned and proven by the divergence of broad downfield heme methyl peaks into two peaks each, showing distinctive population preference of each isomer. Dicyanoheme probe, as well as hydrogen Iability comparison studies between pigmy sperm whale Mb and horse Mb in the azido and imidazole states, asserts that single variant pocket residue CD3 is crucial in gating the ligand mobility into and out of the active site. The assignments of heme peripheral and upfield resonances enabled the subsequent assignments of some heme pocket amino acid residues. The facile exchange of bound Im with solvent H₂0 lays the ground work for identification of heme pocket residues in metMbH₂0. Furthermore, while deuterated heme previously allowed only assignment of the non-diastereomeric specific heme 2-vinyl β proton, saturation-transfer from horse imidazole Mb affords the specific identification of 2Hᵦt.


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