PROSITE documentation PDOC00793
Globin family profile


Globins are heme-containing proteins involved in binding and/or transporting oxygen [1]. They belong to a very large and well studied family which is widely distributed in many organisms. The major groups of globins are:

  • Hemoglobins (Hb) from vertebrates. Hb is the protein responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to other tissues. It is a tetramer of two α and two β chains. Most vertebrate species also express specific embryonic or fetal forms of hemoglobin where the α or the β chains are replaced by a chain with higher oxygen affinity, as for the γ, delta, epsilon and zeta chains in mammals, for example.
  • Myoglobins (Mg) from vertebrates. Mg is a monomeric protein responsible for oxygen storage in muscles.
  • Invertebrate globins [2]. A wide variety of globins are found in invertebrates. Molluscs generally have one or two muscle globins which are either monomeric or dimeric. Insects, such as the midge Chironomus thummi, have a large set of extracellular globins. Nematodes and annelids have a variety of intracellular and extracellular globins; some of them are multi- domain polypeptides (from two up to nine-domain globins) and some produce large, disulfide-bonded aggregates.
  • Leghemoglobins (Lg) from the root nodules of leguminous plants. Lg provides oxygen for bacteroids.
  • Flavohemoproteins from bacteria (Escherichia coli hmpA) and fungi. These proteins consist of two distinct domains: an N-terminal globin domain and a C-terminal FAD-containing reductase domain. In bacteria such as Vitreoscilla, the enzyme-associated globin is a single domain protein.

All these globins seem to have evolved from a common ancestor. The profile developed to detect members of the globin family is based on a structural alignment of selected globin sequences.


Protozoan/cyanobacterial globins belong to another family which is described in <PDOC00933>.

Last update:

December 2001 / Profile revised.


Technical section

PROSITE method (with tools and information) covered by this documentation:

GLOBIN, PS01033; Globin family profile  (MATRIX)


1SourceConcise Encyclopedia Biochemistry, Second Edition, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin New-York (1988).

2AuthorsGoodman M. Pedwaydon J. Czelusniak J. Suzuki T. Gotoh T. Moens L. Shishikura F. Walz D. Vinogradov S.
TitleAn evolutionary tree for invertebrate globin sequences.
SourceJ. Mol. Evol. 27:236-249(1988).
PubMed ID3138426

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