The heme oxygen (O2) binding site of human hemoglobin (HbA) is buried in the interior of the protein, and there is a debate over the O 2 entry pathways from solvent to the binding site. As a first step to understand HbA O2 binding process at the atomic level, we detected all significant multiple O2 entry pathways from solvent to the binding site in the α and β subunits of the T-state tetramer HbA by utilizing ensemble molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. By executing 128 independent 8 ns MD trajectories in O2-rich aqueous solvent, we simulated the O2 entry processes and obtained 141 and 425 O 2 entry events in the α and β subunits of HbA, respectively. We developed the intrinsic pathway identification by clustering method to achieve a persuasive visualization of the multiple entry pathways including both the shapes and relative importance of each pathway. The rate constants of O2 entry estimated from the MD simulations correspond to the experimentally observed values, suggesting that O2 ligands enter the binding site through multiple pathways. The obtained multiple pathway map can be utilized for future detailed analysis of HbA O2 binding process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry