Architecture of Limulus polyphemus hemocyanin.
The architecture of the 48-meric hemocyanin of the horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus has been determined from electron micrographs of whole (48-mer) molecules and half- (24-mer) molecules. The assembly of hexamers of kidney-shaped subunits can produce two dodecameric enantiomorphs, designated as right and left. The assembly of 24-mers can again result in two enantiomorphs. By taking into account the rocking effect described by Van Heel and Frank [Van Heel, M., & Frank, J. (1981) Ultramicroscopy 6, 187-194], we deduced that the 24-meric half-molecule is made up of two copies of the left dodecameric enantiomorph. In addition, the two constituent dodecamers of the half-molecule are shifted with respect to a symmetric head-to-tail arrangement, which makes it possible to distinguish two different faces of the 24-mer, termed flip and flop. A model of the whole molecule was built from two copies of the 24-meric half-molecule. This model presents the four distinct views observed in the electron microscope (pentagon, ring, cross, and bowtie). In addition, the model shows the pentagonal view to exist in two varieties: symmetric and asymmetric. An analysis of electron micrographs presenting the pentagonal view by image processing using the statistical technique of correspondence analysis confirmed the existence of two types of pentagonal view, representing projections of a molecule built from two copies of the left 24-meric enantiomorph. In addition, the best fit between the averaged molecule images and the possible models was observed with a flop-flop inter 24-mer contact. The final model is shown in a series of stereo views produced by computer graphical techniques.
Lamy, J; Sizaret, PY; Frank, J; Verschoor, A; Feldmann, R; Bonaventura, J
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