Reaction of cysteine residues with oxidized tyrosine residues mediates cross-linking of photo-oxidized casein proteins

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Photo-oxidation of casein proteins is commonplace during milk processing and storage. A major consequence of such light exposure is protein cross-linking and aggregation. Although caseins are key milk components, the nature of the cross-links and the mechanisms involved are poorly characterized, with most previous work having been focused on detecting and quantifying di-tyrosine formed on dimerization of two tyrosine-derived phenoxyl radicals. However, this is only one of a large number of possible cross-links that might be formed. In this study, we have investigated the potential involvement of secondary reactions between oxidized protein side-chains and the thiol group of cysteine (Cys) residues in casein cross-linking. Casein proteins were subjected to photo-oxidation using visible light in the presence of a sensitizer (riboflavin or rose Bengal) and O2, then incubated with a Cys-containing peptide (glutathione, GSH) or protein (κ-casein), and subsequently analyzed by SDS-PAGE, immunoblotting and LC-MS. Our data indicate that that photo-oxidized (but not parent) caseins react efficiently with the Cys-containing species, likely via Michael addition to quinones formed from tyrosine residues to give glutathionylated species or protein adducts. Thus, oxidized α-casein reacts with native κ-casein to give high molecular mass aggregates. This adduct formation was prevented by alkylation of the Cys thiol group. The cross-link site and the residues involved have been confirmed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) proteomic analysis. Together, these data extend our knowledge of the mechanisms involved in casein oxidation and aggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132667
JournalFood Chemistry
Volume385
Number of pages7
ISSN0308-8146
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Laureate grants: NNF13OC0004294 and NNF20SA0064214 to MJD) for financial support. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie grant agreement No. 890681 (to EFL).

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Laureate grants: NNF13OC0004294 and NNF20SA0064214 to MJD) for financial support. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 890681 (to EFL).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Casein, Cross-linking, Cysteine, Photo-oxidation, Tyrosine

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