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The allosteric transition within tetrameric hemoglobin (Hb) that allows both full binding to four oxygen molecules in the lung and full release of four oxygens in hypoxic tissues would earn Hb the moniker of 'honorary enzyme'. However, the allosteric model for oxygen binding in hemoglobin overlooked the essential role of blood flow in tissue oxygenation that is essential for life (aka autoregulation of blood flow). That is, blood flow, not oxygen content of blood, is the principal determinant of oxygen delivery under most conditions. With the discovery that hemoglobin carries a third biologic gas, nitric oxide (NO) in the form of S-nitrosothiol (SNO) at β-globin Cys93 (βCys93), and that formation and export of SNO to dilate blood vessels are linked to hemoglobin allostery through enzymatic activity, this title is honorary no more. This chapter reviews evidence that hemoglobin formation and release of SNO is a critical mediator of hypoxic autoregulation of blood flow in tissues leading to oxygen delivery, considers the physiological implications of a 3-gas respiratory cycle (O2/NO/CO2) and the pathophysiological consequences of its dysfunction. Opportunities for therapeutic intervention to optimize oxygen delivery at the level of tissue blood flow are highlighted. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Richard T Premont, David J Singel, Jonathan S Stamler. The enzymatic function of the honorary enzyme: S-nitrosylation of hemoglobin in physiology and medicine. Molecular aspects of medicine. 2022 Apr;84:101056

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PMID: 34852941

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