Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



published in Biopolymers Volume 91, Number 12. Copyright (c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Used by permission.


Plants express three phylogenetic classes of hemoglobins (Hb) based on sequence analyses. Class 1 and 2 Hbs are full-length globins with the classical eight helix Mb-like fold, whereas Class 3 plant Hbs resemble the truncated globins found in bacteria. With the exception of the specialized leghemoglobins, the physiological functions of these plant hemoglobins remain unknown. We have reviewed and, in some cases, measured new oxygen binding properties of a large number of Class 1 and 2 plant nonsymbiotic Hbs and leghemoglobins. We found that sequence classification correlates with distinct extents of hexacoordination with the distal histidine and markedly different overall oxygen affinities and association and dissociation rate constants. These results suggest strong selective pressure for the evolution of distinct physiological functions.