, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 89-107

Complete assignment of 1 H, 13 C and 15 N chemical shifts for bovine β-lactoglobulin: Secondary structure and topology of the native state is retained in a partially unfolded form

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Although β-lactoglobulin (β-LG) has been studied extensively for more than 50 years, its physical properties in solution are not yet understood fully in terms of its three-dimensional (3D) structure. For example, despite a recent high-resolution crystal structure, it is still not clear why the two common variants of bovine β-LG which differ by just two residues have different aggregation properties during milk processing. We have conducted solution-state NMR studies on a recombinant form of the A variant of β-LG at low pH conditions where the protein is partially unfolded and exists as a monomer rather than a dimer. Using a13 C,15N-labelled sample, expressed in Pichia pastoris, we have employed the standard combination of 3D heteronuclear NMR techniques to obtain near complete assignments of proton, carbon and nitrogen resonances. Using a novel pulse sequence we were able to obtain additional assignments, in particular those of methyl groups in residues preceding proline within the sequence. From chemical shifts and on the basis of inter-residue NOEs, we have inferred the secondary structure and topology of monomeric β-LG A. It includes eight antiparallel β-strands arranged in a barrel, flanked by an α-helix, which is typical of a member of the lipocalin family. A detailed comparison with the crystal structure of the dimeric form (for a mixture of A and B variants) at pH 6.5 reveals a close resemblance in both secondary structure and overall topology. Both forms have a ninth β-strand which, at the higher pH, forms part of the dimer interface. These studies represent the first full NMR assignment of β-LG and will form the basis for a complete characterisation of the solution structure and dynamics of this protein and its variants.