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    κ-casein (κ-CN) is one of the key components in bovine milk, playing a unique role in the structuration of casein micelles. It contains in its chemical structure up to sixteen amino acid residues (mainly serine and threonine) susceptible to modifications, including glycosylation and phosphorylation, which may further be formed during milk processing. In this study, changes in post-translational modification (PTM) of κ-CN during bovine milk fermentation were investigated. One-to-five-day fermented milk samples were produced. A traditional bottom-up proteomics approach was used to establish a multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM) method for relative quantification of κ-CN PTM. Endoproteinase Glu-C was found to efficiently digest the κ-CN molecule. The developed LC-MS method was validated by performing assessments of linearity, precision, repeatability, reproducibility, limit of detection (LOD), and limit of quantification (LOQ). Among the yielded peptides, four of them containing serine and threonine residues were identified and the unmodified as well as the modified variants of each of them were relatively quantified. These peptides were (1) IPTINTIASGEPTSTTE [140, 158], (2) STVATLE [162, 168], (3) DSPE [169, 172], and (4) INTVQVTSTAV [180, 190]. Distribution analysis between unmodified and modified peptides revealed that over 50% of κ-CN was found in one of its modified forms in milk. The fermentation process further significantly altered the composition between unmodified/modified κ-CN, with glycoslaytion being predominant compared to phosphorylation (p < 0.01). Further method development towards α and β-CN fractions and their PTM behavior would be an asset to better understand the changes undergone by milk proteins and the micellar structure during fermentation.

    Citation

    Sorel Tchewonpi Sagu, Harshadrai M Rawel, Sascha Rohn. Targeted Bottom-Up Mass Spectrometry Approach for the Relative Quantification of Post-Translational Modification of Bovine κ-Casein during Milk Fermentation. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2022 Sep 08;27(18)

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    PMID: 36144569

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