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O2 binding and CO2 sensitivity in haemoglobins of subterranean African mole rats

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  • Roy E. Weber
  • Jennifer U. M. Jarvis, Univ Cape Town, University of Cape Town, Zool Dept
  • ,
  • Angela Fago
  • Nigel C. Bennett, Univ Pretoria, University of Pretoria, Ctr Invas Biol, Dept Zool & Entomol
Inhabiting deep and sealed subterranean burrows, mole rats exhibit a remarkable suite of specializations, including eusociality (living in colonies with single breeding queens), extraordinary longevity, cancer immunity and poikilothermy, and extreme tolerance of hypoxia and hypercapnia. With little information available on adjustments in haemoglobin (Hb) function that may mitigate the impact of exogenous and endogenous constraints on the uptake and internal transport of O2, we measured haematological characteristics, as well as Hb-O2 binding affinity and sensitivity to pH (Bohr effect), CO2, temperature and 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG, the major allosteric modulator of Hb-O2 affinity in red blood cells) in four social and two solitary species of African mole rats (family Bathyergidae) originating from different biomes and soil types across Central and Southern Africa. We found no consistent patterns in haematocrit (Hct) and blood and red cell DPG and Hb concentrations or in intrinsic Hb-O2 affinity and its sensitivity to pH and DPG that correlate with burrowing, sociality and soil type. However, the results reveal low specific (pH independent) effects of CO2 on Hb-O2 affinity compared with humans that predictably safeguard pulmonary loading under hypoxic and hypercapnic burrow conditions. The O2 binding characteristics are discussed in relation to available information on the primary structure of Hbs from adult and developmental stages of mammals subjected to hypoxia and hypercapnia and the molecular mechanisms underlying functional variation in rodent Hbs.
TidsskriftJournal of Experimental Biology
Sider (fra-til)3939-3948
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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