, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 110–117 | Cite as

The polymerization of sickle hemoglobin in solutions and cells

  • F. A. Ferrone


The polymerization of sickle hemoglobin occurs by the same mechanisms in solutions and in cells, and involves the formation of 14 stranded fibers from hemoglobin molecules which have assumed a deoxy quaternary structure. The fibers form via two types of highly concentration-dependent nucleation processes: homogeneous nucleation in solutions with hemoglobin activity above a critical activity, and heterogeneous nucleation in similarly supersaturated solutions which also contain hemoglobin polymers. The latter pathway is dominant, and creates polymer arrays called domains. The individual polymers bend, but also cross-link, and the resulting mass behaves as a solid. The concentration of polymerized hemoglobin increases exponentially unless clamped by rate limiting effects such as oxygen delivery.

Key words

Polymerization sickle hemoglobin sickle cell disease kinetics thermodynamics polymer domains nucleation 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. A. Ferrone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and Atmospheric ScienceDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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