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Press Release 04-055
Oldest Hemoglobin Ancestors Offer Clues to Earliest
Close look at structure of transport proteins could aid search for future blood substitutes
This snapshot comes from an animated simulation of the molecular dynamics of an A.
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April 20, 2004
ARLINGTON, Va.--Red-blooded genealogists take note: The discovery in microbes of two oxygen-packing proteins, the
earliest known ancestors to hemoglobin, brings scientists closer to identifying the earliest life forms to use oxygen.
According to the project's lead investigator, University of Hawaii microbiologist Maqsudul Alam, the research may also aid in
the search for blood substitutes as new molecular details shed light on how the structure of such proteins, called
protoglobins, evolved to transport and release oxygen.
Scientists from the Maui High Performance Computing Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
contributed to the research. The findings will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in an
online "Early Edition" this week (at www.pnas.org) and in the April 27 print issue. A four-year, $500,000 grant from the
National Science Foundation supported the project.