Β-lactoglobulin self-assembly: structural changes in early stages and disulfide bonding in fibrils.

Research paper by Anant C AC Dave, Simon M SM Loveday, Skelte G SG Anema, Trevor S TS Loo, Gillian E GE Norris, Geoffrey B GB Jameson, Harjinder H Singh

Indexed on: 16 Jul '13Published on: 16 Jul '13Published in: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry


Bovine β-lactoglobulin (β-Lg) self-assembles into long amyloid-like fibrils when heated at 80 °C, pH 2, and low ionic strength (<0.015 mM). Heating β-Lg under fibril-forming conditions shows a lag phase before fibrils start forming. We have investigated the structural characteristics of β-Lg during the lag phase and the composition of β-Lg fibrils after their separation using ultracentrifugation. During the lag phase, the circular dichroism spectra of heated β-Lg showed rapid unfolding, and sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of samples showed increasing hydrolysis of β-Lg. The SDS-PAGE profiles of fibrils separated by ultra centrifugation showed that after six hours, the fibrils consisted of a few preferentially accumulated peptides. Two-dimensional SDS-PAGE under reducing and nonreducing conditions showed the presence of disulfide-bonded fragments in the fibrils. The sequences in these peptide bands were characterized by in-gel digestion electrospray ionization (ESI)-MS/MS. The composition of solubilized fibrils was also characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS/MS. Both MS analyses showed that peptides in fibrils were primarily from the N-terminal region, although there was some evidence of peptides from the C-terminal part of the molecule present in the higher molecular weight gel bands. We suggest that although the N-terminal region of β-Lg is almost certainly involved in the formation of the fibrils, other peptide fragments linked through disulfide bonds may also be present in the fibrils during self-assembly.