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The Interview: Hemoglobin vs. Myoglobin


Karobi Moitra
Department of Biology
Trinity Washington University


This case study examines the structure of hemoglobin and myoglobin and how the structure of these molecules dictates their function. The case is written as a play in which several candidates have responded to a help wanted ad seeking an employee with a strong work ethic, round-the-clock availability, and the capacity to carry oxygen in the human body and deliver it in a timely fashion when needed. The successful candidate also needs to carry a heavy load of carbon dioxide and dispose of it according to waste disposal regulations and be willing to work with human resources regarding salary and benefits. The play provides an engaging method of learning the basics of protein structure and the biochemistry of oxygen transport while also introducing the concepts of allostery and cooperative binding. The case can be used in a basic lower-level undergraduate physiology class, biochemistry class or even a cell and molecular biology class. It can also be used in an advanced-level high school biology class.

  • Explain the basic components of protein structure such as alpha helix and beta sheets.
  • Explain the process of oxygen transport by hemoglobin and myoglobin.
  • Describe the structure of hemoglobin and myoglobin.
  • Explain the concepts of cooperative binding and allostery.
  • Decipher the mechanism of oxygen binding to hemoglobin and myoglobin.
  • Explain the Bohr effect.
  • Describe why hemoglobin is more suitable for carrying oxygen in the blood than myoglobin.
Keywords: Hemoglobin; myoglobin; oxygen transport; Bohr effect; cooperative binding; carbon-dioxide; muscles
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biochemistry   Biology (General)   Cell Biology   Physiology  
Date Posted: 5/28/2015
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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