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Molecular Analytical Assessment of Thermally Precipitated α-Lactalbumin after Resolubilization

  • haller, nicole
  • maier, isabel
  • kulozik, ulrich
Publication Date
Sep 20, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/foods10092231
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Selective thermal precipitation followed by a mechanical separation step is a well described method for fractionation of the main whey proteins, α-lactalbumin (α-la) and β-lactoglobulin (β-lg). By choosing appropriate environmental conditions the thermal precipitation of either α-la or β-lg can be induced. Whereas β-lg irreversibly aggregates, the precipitated α-la can be resolubilized by a subsequent adjustment of the solution’s pH and the ionic composition. This study reports on the analytical characterization of resolubilized α-la compared to its native counterpart as a reference in order to assess whether the resolubilized α-la can be considered close to ‘native’. Turbidity and quantification by RP-HPLC of the resolubilized α-la solutions were used as a measure of solubility in aqueous environment. RP-HPLC was also applied to determine the elution time as a measure for protein’s hydrophobicity. DSC measurement was performed to determine the denaturation peak temperature of resolubilized α-la. FTIR spectroscopy provided insights in the secondary structure. The refolding of α-la achieved best results using pH 8.0 and a 3-fold stoichiometric amount of Ca2+ per α-la molecule. The results showed that the mechanism of aggregation induced by gentle thermal treatment under acidic conditions with subsequent mechanical separation is reversible to a certain extent, however, the exact native conformation was not restored.

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