Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Animal Hemoglobin
Name: Courtney
Status: Student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

What is the material that enables animal hemoglobin to carry oxygen?

The careful arrangement of the protein (hundreds of amino acids long) and the four iron atoms in it. If the protein is off by one amino acid it can radically change the molecules ability to carry oxygen properly...sickle cell anemia, has only one amino acid change out of hundreds.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Senior Science Advisor
Office of Science
Department of Energy

That would be iron.

Don Yee

Hemoglobin is a protein holding an iron atom in such a way that a molecule of oxygen from the air attaches to it. The oxygen is only weakly attached to the iron atom, so that when the hemoglobin is carried to a relatively oxygen-poor environment inside the body, the oxygen molecule detaches and is taken up by the cell waiting to receive it.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory