Aiming to evaluate the mechanisms responsible for altered O2- transporting properties in blood of Plasmodium-infected animals, stripped (cofactor-free) hemoglobin (Hb) solutions were prepared from infected erythrocytes (IE) and noninfected erythrocytes (NIE) of rats inoculated with Plasmodium berghei bergei for functional and structural characterization. At normal intraerythrocytic pH (+/- 7.2), Hb from IE showed a higher affinity, a larger Bohr effect, and lower sensitivities to 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) and to temperature than did NIE Hb. Moreover, as judged from electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, and gel filtration experiments, Hb from IE show changes in charge and molecular assembly. The results indicate that the higher O2 affinity and greater Bohr factors observed in IE compared with those for NIE are attributable to chemical modification of the Hb that increases its intrinsic O2 affinity and decreases its sensitivity to DPG as well as to changes in the intracellular physicochemical milieu, including reduced DPG levels.

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