Absence or Reduction of Carbonic Anhydrase II in the Red Cells of the Beluga Whale and Llama: Implications for Adaptation to Hypoxia
hypoxia;red cell carbonic anhydrases;beluga whale;llama
Carbonic anhydrase (CA) expression was examined in the red cells of two mammals that have adapted to low oxygen stress: the llama, which has adapted to high altitudes, and the beluga (or white) whale, which routinely dives for extended periods. Immunodiffusion analyses of their Hb-free hemolysates and partial amino acid sequencing of their HPLC-separated nonheme proteins indicate that the low-activity CA I isozyme is the major nonheme protein in erythrocytes of both the beluga whale and the llama. The high-activity CA II isozyme was not detected in the whale red cells but was present at low levels in erythrocytes of the llama. These results suggest that the absence or decrease in the expression of the high-activity CA II isozyme may be advantageous under hypoxic conditions.