The pH threshold in the dissolution of β-lactoglobulin gels and aggregates in alkali

Ruben Mercadé-Prieto, William R. Paterson, D. Ian Wilson

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The existence of a practical minimum pH for the dissolution of heat-induced whey gels in alkaline solutions has been studied using β-lactoglobulin (βLg) as a model protein. A sharp transition in solubility was observed between pH 11 and 12; this transition shifts to higher pHs for gels formed at higher temperatures and for longer gelling times. The breakdown reactions of heat-induced aggregates in alkali were monitored with size exclusion chromatography. The destruction of large aggregates was faster at higher pH and also showed a transition between pH 11 and 12. Using tryptophan fluorescence and near- and far-UV circular dichroism, this transition was assigned to the base-induced denaturation observed in solutions of aggregates (pK 11.53). It is suggested that the high protein repulsion caused by the large number of charges at pH > 11.5 drives the unfolding of the protein and the disruption of the intermolecular noncovalent bonds. Concentrated urea and GuHCl were found to be less effective than a pH 12 solution in destroying large aggregates. Aggregates formed for a long time (80 °C for 24 h) contained a larger number of intermolecular disulfide bonds that hinder the dissolution process. Gels formed at low temperatures (65 °C for 60 min), with fewer intermolecular noncovalent bonds, showed a similar solubility-pH profile to that observed for the base-induced denaturation of unheated β-lactoglobulin (βLg) (pK 10.63).

Idioma originalAnglès
Pàgines (de-a)1162-1170
Nombre de pàgines9
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - d’abr. 2007
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