A severe hemolytic crisis was observed in a 34-yr-old female of English- Irish extraction following a viral illness treated with acetaminophen. Heinz bodies and heat instability were present only during a transient hemolytic event. A challenge dose of acetaminophen caused no detectable hematologic abnormality. Structural studies of the hemoglobin during hemolysis and again after complete recovery localized the abnormality to tryptic peptide beta Tp-5, and automated sequencing of I 125-labeled beta chains indicated a replacement of phenylalanine (C7) beta 41 by tyrosine. Substitution of the next residue, phenylalanine (CD1) beta 42 by serine (Hb Hammersmith), has resulted in chronic severe Heinz body hemolytic anemia. The lack of chronic anemia in the present disorder may reflect the different relationships of beta41 and beta 42 and/or the similarities in volume and hydrophobicity of tyrosine and phenylalanine. It is suggested that substitution of tyrosine for phenylalanine in Hb Mequon may disturb the critical environment around the heme group and render it susceptible to oxidative denaturation in the presence of infections and/or drugs.

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