Site-directed mutagenesis of cysteine residues alters oxidative stability of fetal hemoglobin

Karin Kettisen, Michael Brad Strader, Francine Wood, Abdu I. Alayash, Leif Bülow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)


Redox active cysteine residues including βCys93 are part of hemoglobin's “oxidation hotspot”. Irreversible oxidation of βCys93 ultimately leads to the collapse of the hemoglobin structure and release of heme. Human fetal hemoglobin (HbF), similarly to the adult hemoglobin (HbA), carries redox active γCys93 in the vicinity of the heme pocket. Site-directed mutagenesis has been used in this study to examine the impact of removal and/or addition of cysteine residues in HbF. The redox activities of the recombinant mutants were examined by determining the spontaneous autoxidation rate, the hydrogen peroxide induced ferric to ferryl oxidation rate, and irreversible oxidation of cysteine by quantitative mass spectrometry. We found that substitution of γCys93Ala resulted in oxidative instability characterized by increased oxidation rates. Moreover, the addition of a cysteine residue at α19 on the exposed surface of the α-chain altered the regular electron transfer pathway within the protein by forming an alternative oxidative site. This may also create an accessible site for di-sulfide bonding between Hb subunits. Engineering of cysteine residues at suitable locations may be useful as a tool for managing oxidation in a protein, and for Hb, a way to stave off oxidation reactions resulting in a protein structural collapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalRedox Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Medicinal Chemistry


  • Cysteine
  • Fetal hemoglobin
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Oxidation
  • Protein electron transfer
  • Site-directed mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Site-directed mutagenesis of cysteine residues alters oxidative stability of fetal hemoglobin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this