Studies of the fiber to crystal transition of sickle cell hemoglobin in acidic polyethylene glycol

Robert J. Vassar*, Michael J. Potel, Robert Josephs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The crystallization of deoxygenated sickle cell hemoglobin in acidic (pH 5.2) polyethylene glycol (10%) has been studied in order to determine if the mechanism of crystal formation under such conditions has features in common with the mechanism of crystal formation at higher pH values in the absence of polyethylene glycol. The existence of a common mechanism of crystallization under different conditions is relevant in validating the use of the known high resolution crystal structure to interpret the fiber structure. Our findings indicate that deoxygenated sickle cell hemoglobin crystallization in acidic polyethylene glycol is initiated by fiber formation. Fibers, in turn, convert to larger structures called macrofibers within several hours (Wellems et al., 1981). Fibers and macrofibers (and their respective optical transforms) formed in acidic polyethylene glycol appear to have the same structure as their counterparts formed at higher pH values in the absence of polyethylene glycol. Early in the transition one can observe macrofibers in the process of alignment and fusion. The structural characterization of the intermediates leaves little doubt that crystallization in acidic polyethylene glycol is mediated by the same mechanism as that occurring under more physiological conditions, and that fibers are a metastable intermediate whose ultimate fate is to crystallize.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-412
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Volume157
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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