Neutrons used to study a key protein in milk

Apr 24, 2012
Neutrons used to study a key protein in milk
Martha (her progeny is pictured here) was the subject of a scientific "cow-laboration."

Martha, a cow placidly grazing in a field in The Netherlands, became an important collaborator with researchers who successfully analyzed and characterized the internal protein structure and the composite particles of her milk using small-angle neutron scattering at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Casein micelles, a family of related phosphorus-containing proteins, make up 80 percent of the protein in . They are the building blocks of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, supplying amino acids, calcium, and phosphorus to the body. More important, they are the principal vehicle for delivering calcium phosphate to rapidly growing newborns.

Researchers have long struggled with the challenge of unraveling the internal structure of this protein. An international collaboration used the's High Flux Isotope Reactor's (HFIR) general purpose small-angle neutron scattering instrument (GP-SANS) to study samples of milk from Martha. They compared the neutron scattering data with various theoretical models of casein structure that have been proposed in the literature. The results showed that one model prevails: The casein micelle proteins are composed of a protein matrix in which nanoclusters (about 300 per casein micelle) are dispersed.

Explore further: Skin patch could replace the syringe for disease diagnosis

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cellulose breakdown

Jun 24, 2011

Ionic liquids have emerged as promising new solvents capable of disrupting the cellulose crystalline structure in a wide range of biomass feedstocks.

Recommended for you

World's fastest manufacture of battery electrodes

3 hours ago

New world record: Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) increased the manufacturing speed of electrode foils coated batch-wise by a factor of three – to 100 meters per minute. This was ...

Waste, an alternative source of energy to petroleum

3 hours ago

The group led by Martín Olazar, researcher in the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country's Department of Chemical Engineering, is studying the development of sustainable refineries where it is possible ...

Researchers developing new thermal interface materials

4 hours ago

In the microelectronics world, the military and private sectors alike need solutions to technologic challenges. Dr. Mustafa Akbulut, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and two students lead a project ...

User comments : 0