Langmuir, Vol.29, No.33, 10483-10490, 2013
Coacervates of Lactotransferrin and beta- or kappa-Casein: Structure Determined Using SAXS
Lactotransferrin (LF) is a large globular protein in milk with immuneregulatory and bactericidal properties. At pH 6.5, LF (M = 78 kDa) carries a net (calculated) charge of +21. beta-Casein (BCN) and kappa-casein (KCN) are part of the casein micelle complex in milk. Both BCN and KCN are amphiphillic proteins with a molar mass of 24 and 19 kappa Da and carry net charges of 14 and 4, respectively. Both BCN and KCN form soap-like micelles, with 40 and 65 monomers, respectively. The net negative charges are located in the corona of the micelles. On mixing LF with the caseins, coacervates are formed. We analyzed the structure of these coarcervates using SAXS. It was found that LF binds to the corona of the micellar structures, at the charge neutrality point. BCN/LF and KCN/LF ratios at the charge neutrality point were found to be similar to 1.2 and similar to 5 respectively. We think that the findings are relevant for the protection mechanism of globular proteins in bodily fluids where unstructured proteins are abundant (saliva). The complexes will prevent docking of enzymes on specific charged groups on the globular protein.