Comparative 11A structure of two molluscan hemocyanins from 3D cryo-electron microscopy.

Hemocyanins are giant extracellular proteins that transport oxygen in the hemolymph of many molluscs. Molluscan hemocyanins are cylindrical decamers or didecamers of a 350–400 kDa subunit that contains seven or eight different covalently linked globular functional units (FUs), arranged in a linear manner. Each FU carries a single copper active site and reversibly binds one dioxygen molecule. As a consequence, the decamer can carry up to 70 or 80 O2 molecules.

Nautilus pompilius hemocyanin: 9 A cryo-EM structure and molecular model reveal the subunit pathway and the interfaces between the 70 functional units.

Hemocyanins are giant extracellular oxygen carriers in the hemolymph of many molluscs. Nautilus pompilius (Cephalopoda) hemocyanin is a cylindrical decamer of a 350 kDa polypeptide subunit that in turn is a “pearl-chain” of seven different functional units (FU-a to FU-g). Each globular FU has a binuclear copper centre that reversibly binds one O2 molecule, and the 70-FU decamer is a highly allosteric protein. Its primary structure and an 11 Å cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure have recently been determined, and the crystal structures of two related FU types are available in the databanks.