Hemoglobin (Hb) plays a critical role in human physiological function by transporting O2. Hb is safe and inert within the confinement of the red blood cell but becomes reactive and toxic upon hemolysis. Haptoglobin (Hp) is an acute-phase serum protein that scavenges Hb and the resulting Hb-Hp complex is subjected to CD163-mediated endocytosis by macrophages. The interaction between Hb and Hp is extraordinarily strong and largely irreversible. As the structural details of the human Hb-Hp complex are not yet available, this study reports for the first time on insights of the binding modalities and molecular details of the human Hb-Hp interaction by means of protein-protein docking. Furthermore, residues that are pertinent for complex formation were identified by computational alanine scanning mutagenesis. Results revealed that the surface of the binding interface of Hb-Hp is not flat and protrudes into each binding partner. It was also observed that the secondary structures at the Hb-Hp interface are oriented as coils and α-helices. When dissecting the interface in more detail, it is obvious that several tyrosine residues of Hb, particularly β145Tyr, α42Tyr and α140Tyr, are buried in the complex and protected from further oxidative reactions. Such finding opens up new avenues for the design of Hp mimics which may be used as alternative clinical Hb scavengers. © 2013 Nantasenamat et al.
Nantasenamat, C., Prachayasittikul, V., & Bulow, L. (2013). Molecular Modeling of the Human Hemoglobin-Haptoglobin Complex Sheds Light on the Protective Mechanisms of Haptoglobin. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062996