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Characterization of Conjugates between α-Lactalbumin and Benzyl Isothiocyanate—Effects on Molecular Structure and Proteolytic Stability

Spöttel, Jenny; Brockelt, Johannes; Falke, Sven; Rohn, Sascha

FG Lebensmittelchemie und Analytik

In complex foods, bioactive secondary plant metabolites (SPM) can bind to food proteins. Especially when being covalently bound, such modifications can alter the structure and, thus, the functional and biological properties of the proteins. Additionally, the bioactivity of the SPM can be affected as well. Consequently, knowledge of the influence of chemical modifications on these properties is particularly important for food processing, food safety, and nutritional physiology. As a model, the molecular structure of conjugates between the bioactive metabolite benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC, a hydrolysis product of the glucosinolate glucotropaeolin) and the whey protein α-lactalbumin (α-LA) was investigated using circular dichroism spectroscopy, anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid fluorescence, and dynamic light scattering. Free amino groups were determined before and after the BITC conjugation. Finally, mass spectrometric analysis of the BITC-α-LA protein hydrolysates was performed. As a result of the chemical modifications, a change in the secondary structure of α-LA and an increase in surface hydrophobicity and hydrodynamic radii were documented. BITC modification at the ε-amino group of certain lysine side chains inhibited tryptic hydrolysis. Furthermore, two BITC-modified amino acids were identified, located at two lysine side chains (K32 and K113) in the amino acid sequence of α-LA.