The University of Texas at Austin

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Austen Riggs
Professor Emeritus

Main Office: PAT 506A
Phone: 471-1585

Alternate Office: PAT 504-509
Alt. Phone: 471-7435

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin - ICMB
1 University Station C0920
2415 Speedway
Austin ,TX 78712-0252

Austen Riggs

Research Summary

Interactions between and within macromolecular assemblages are frequently the key to understanding many complex cellular processes. I am particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms responsible for protein-protein interactions in hemoglobins. Current research concerns the structure, function and genetics of diverse hemoglobins that are widely distributed in all major groups of organisms including bacteria, fungi and higher plants as well as animals. We are studying the mechanisms by which self-association of subunits controls physiological function. The gigantic extracellular hemoglobin of the earthworm with over ~200 subunits is being studied as a model protein for understanding mechanisms by which calcium controls function. Collaborative studies of the two domain flavohemoglobin of yeast indicate that its function is as a nitric oxide dioxygenase. These studies utilize a combination of biophysical techniques and molecular biology. For example, site-directed-mutagenesis of lamprey hemoglobin together with ultracentrifugation, light scattering and measurement of oxygen binding has made possible the identification of the mechanisms responsible for the pH-dependent cooperative binding of oxygen. Biophysical techniques are now being applied to the assembly and function of the gigantic hemoglobin of the earthworm and its control by calcium.



Bio Sci students