Globins are heme-containing proteins ubiquitously expressed in vertebrates, where they serve a broad range of biological functions, directly or indirectly related to the tight control of oxygen levels and its toxic products in vivo. Perhaps the most investigated of all proteins, hemoglobin and myoglobin are primarily involved in oxygen transport and storage, but also in facilitating arterial vasodilation, suppressing mitochondrial respiration and preventing tissue oxidative damage via accessory redox enzymatic activities during hypoxia. By contrast, the more recently discovered neuroglobin and cytoglobin do not seem to function as reversible oxygen carriers and are instead involved in redox activities, although their exact biological roles remain to be clarified. In this context, hypoxia-tolerant ectotherms, such as freshwater turtles and members of the carp family that survive winter in extreme hypoxia, have proven as excellent models to appreciate the diversity of biological functions of globin proteins. Unraveling physiological roles of globin proteins in these extreme animals will clarify an important part of the adaptive mechanisms for surviving extreme fluctuations of oxygen availability that are prohibitive to mammals.
- oxidative stress
- Copyright © 2017, Journal of Applied Physiology