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Oxygen-Binding Characteristics of Hemoglobins from Hypoxia and Hypercapnia Tolerant African Mole Rats

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  • Roy E. Weber
  • Jennifer U. M Jarvis, University of Cape Town, Sydafrika
  • Angela Fago
  • Nigel C. Bennett, University of Pretoria, Sydafrika
Inhabiting complex, deep and sealed burrow systems, mole rats exhibit a suit of striking anatomical, behavioral and physiological specializations, including eusociality (living in large colonies with a single breeding ‘queen’), extraordinary longevity, variable body temperatures, high immunity to cancer, and the capability of tolerating more extreme levels of hypoxia (O2 tensions lower than on Mount Everest) and hypercapnia (10% CO2 concentrations) than other mammals. With the view of identifying possible cellular and molecular mechanisms that mitigate the constraints on the exchange and internal transport of respiratory gases, we analysed hematological characters, as well as the Hb-O2 affinities and their sensitivities to pH (the Bohr effect), CO2, temperature and to the major red cell allosteric effector, DPG, in 4 eusocial and
2 strictly-solitary species of African mole rats (family Bathyergidae) originating from a range of different biomes and soil types. The study shows no evidence for distinguishing interspecific differences in hematological characters (e.g. DPG and Hb levels and isoHb differentiation). Additionally small differences observed in Hb’s intrinsic O2 affinity and in the effects of pH, DPG and temperature were not clearly correlated with sociality and soil-type. However, it reveals palpable, species-specific reductions in the specific (pH-independent) effect of CO2 on Hb-O2 affinity (carbamate formation) compared to other mammalian Hbs, which would be adaptive in safeguarding pulmonary Hb-O2 loading under hypercapnic and hypoxic burrows. The results are discussed in relation to the limited, available information on the primary structures on mole rat Hbs.
Udgivelsesår13 sep. 2016
StatusUdgivet - 13 sep. 2016

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