Tools & Techniques Imaging, Analytical science

Small-footprint Absorbance System for Characterizing Heme Proteins

Compact Spark Spectral Sensor Measures Vis-NIR Absorbance of Hemoglobin and More

Heme proteins play many vital roles in mammal physiology, including the storage and transport of oxygen and the transport of electrons in the mitochondria, where the high-energy molecule ATP (adenosine trisphosphate) is synthesized. The presence of the heme prosthetic group in these proteins gives rise to UV-Vis absorbance spectra that vary with the state of the heme group. In this application note, we focus on the visible response of the heme group using the compact Spark spectral sensor to measure absorbance spectra for the heme proteins hemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochrome c.


Heme proteins are metalloproteins with an iron atom found at the center of a porphyrin prosthetic group. The heme group is bound to the protein and is absolutely required for the protein to carry out its critical biological function. The metalloproteins hemoglobin and myoglobin are very similar proteins that function to store and transport oxygen in mammals. The metalloprotein cytochrome c plays a critical role as part of the electron transport chain in mitochondria where the ATP that powers life is synthesized.

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