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The oleic acid/alpha-lactalbumin complex HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumors) is cytotoxic to various cancerous cell lines and is assembled from alpha-lactalbumin (ALA) and free oleic acid (OA). HAMLET is also cytotoxic to normal immature intestinal cells. It remains unclear if HAMLET, experimentally assembled with OA and heat, can spontaneously assemble in frozen human milk over time. To approach this issue, we used a set of timed proteolytic experiments to evaluate the digestibility of HAMLET and native ALA. The purity of HAMLET in human milk was confirmed by ultra high performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and western blot to resolve the ALA and OA components. Timed proteolytic experiments were used to identify HAMLET in whole milk samples. Structural characterization of HAMLET was performed by Fournier transformed infrared spectroscopy and indicated a transformation of secondary structure with increased alpha-helical character of ALA upon binding to OA. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Katherine E Chetta, Marcello Forconi, Danforth A Newton, Carol L Wagner, John E Baatz. HAMLET in human milk is resistant to digestion and carries essential free long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and oleic acid. Food chemistry. 2023 Nov 30;427:136752

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PMID: 37392621

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