Using the MWC model to describe heterotropic interactions in hemoglobin

Olga Rapp, Ofer Yifrach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Hemoglobin is a classical model allosteric protein. Research on hemoglobin parallels the development of key cooperativity and allostery concepts, such as the 'all-or-none' Hill formalism, the stepwise Adair binding formulation and the concerted Monod-Wymann-Changuex (MWC) allosteric model. While it is clear that the MWC model adequately describes the cooperative binding of oxygen to hemoglobin, rationalizing the effects of H+, CO2 or organophosphate ligands on hemoglobin-oxygen saturation using the same model remains controversial. According to the MWC model, allosteric ligands exert their effect on protein function by modulating the quaternary conformational transition of the protein. However, data fitting analysis of hemoglobin oxygen saturation curves in the presence or absence of inhibitory ligands persistently revealed effects on both relative oxygen affinity (c) and conformational changes (L), elementary MWC parameters. The recent realization that data fitting analysis using the traditional MWC model equation may not provide reliable estimates for L and c thus calls for a re-examination of previous data using alternative fitting strategies. In the current manuscript, we present two simple strategies for obtaining reliable estimates for MWC mechanistic parameters of hemoglobin steady-state saturation curves in cases of both evolutionary and physiological variations. Our results suggest that the simple MWC model provides a reasonable description that can also account for heterotropic interactions in hemoglobin. The results, moreover, offer a general roadmap for successful data fitting analysis using the MWC model.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0182871
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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