CHEM-342 Introduction to Biochemistry        Group Members________________________
Final Examination - Group Part
Friday, 25 May 2001                                                             ________________________
5:15 - 6:30 PM
H. B. White - Instructor                                                         ________________________




Important - Please read this before you turn the page.

1.    On the last page, there is a representation of the amino acid sequences of the alpha and beta globin chains of rabbit hemoglobin.
A.  (3 points) If Zinoffsky had used rabbit hemoglobin instead of horse hemoglobin for his determination of the iron and sulfur content of hemoglobin, what stoichiometry of Fe to S would he have found?
    B.  (2 points) Explain your answer.

2.    (Someone in your group read this aloud.) Around 1960, biochemists knew from the amino acid sequences of a few small proteins that proteins were linear polymers. They also knew that there was a linear correspondence between genetic maps (e.g. DNA) and protein sequence and that ribosomes catalyzed the synthesis of proteins. However, they had no idea of how the polymerization occurred. Messenger RNA and the Genetic Code were not yet known.

Howard M. Dintzis [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 47, 247-261 (1961)] designed an experiment to determine whether proteins were polymerized from their amino terminus to their carboxyl terminus, vice versa, or in some less orderly way.

He knew that animals like rabbits produce large numbers of reticulocytes when exposed to phenylhydrazine. Unlike the mature erythrocytes, these immature red blood cells are making hemoglobin and, at any given moment, all stages of synthesis are present. When incubated with radioactive amino acids, reticulocytes will incorporate the amino acids into hemoglobin. In order to make the system experimentally manageable, Dintzis slowed down the process of protein synthesis by lowering the incubation temperature to 15ºC. He reasoned that, if synthesis proceeded from one end to the other, successive peptides in the amino acid sequence should display a gradient of labeling at short time periods. His experiment was designed as follows.

A.    At the time Dintzis did his experiment, he did not know the amino acid sequences of rabbit hemoglobin alpha and beta chains. He inferred the order of the peptides by the gradient of labeling. Later Naughton & Dintzis [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 48, 1822-1830 (1962)] determined the order of the peptides by comparison to the known human hemoglobin sequences and plotted their data as shown below.

B.  (12 points) Which direction of protein synthesis do these data support?

    (You may know the answer, but credit will be given only for an answer that clearly and unambiguously explains how the data support the conclusion. Diagrams are welcome.)

    B.  (8 points) Several leucine-containing tryptic peptides have more than one leucine and would be expected to contain correspondingly more radioactivity, yet there are no "spikes" in the data. The numbers increase regularly. How did Dintzisí experimental design take into account the possibility of multiple leucines in a single peptide? (Note: Dintzis did not analyze every leucine-containing peptide.)

C. Bonus Question (5 points) The rate of protein synthesis at 15ºC is about 1/6th of the rate at 37ºC. Based on the data provided, make a reasonable, rough estimate of the time in seconds that it takes for a ribosome to make a single peptide bond in hemoglobin. Describe your reasoning.

Rabbit Hemoglobin alpha chain




Rabbit Hemoglobin beta chain




The single-letter abbreviations for the 20 amino acids are:

A = Alanine          I = Isoleucine       R = Arginine

C = Cysteine         K = Lysine           S = Serine

D = Aspartic Acid    L = Leucine          T = Threonine

E = Glutamic Acid    M = Methionine       V = Valine

F = Phenylalanine    N = Asparagine       W = Tryptophan

G = Glycine          P = Proline          Y = Tyrosine

H = Histidine        Q = Glutamine

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Posted 14 June 2001 by Hal White
Copyright 2001, Harold B. White, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Delaware