Citation (#238):

A folding variant of a-lactalbumin with bactericidal activity against Streptococcus pneumoniae

Authors: Hakansson, A., Svensson, M., Mossberg, A.-K., Sabharwal, H., Linse, S., Lazou, I., Lonnerdal, B., Svanborg, C.

Journal: Molecular Microbiology 2000, 35(3).


This study describes an alpha-lactalbumin folding variant from human milk with bactericidal activity against antibiotic-resistant and -susceptible strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. The active complex precipitated with the casein fraction at pH 4.6 and was purified from casein by a combination of anion exchange and gel chromatography. Unlike other casein components, the active complex was retained on the ion-exchange matrix and eluted only with high salt. The eluted fraction showed N-terminal and mass spectrometric identity with human milk alpha-lactalbumin, but native alpha-lactalbumin had no bactericidal effect. Spectroscopic analysis demonstrated that the active form of the molecule was in a different folding state, with secondary structure identical to alpha-lactalbumin from human milk whey, but fluctuating tertiary structure. Native alpha-lactalbumin could be converted to the active bactericidal form by ion-exchange chromatography in the presence of a cofactor from human milk casein, characterized as a C18:1 fatty acid. Analysis of the antibacterial spectrum showed selectivity for streptococci; Gram-negative and other Gram-positive bacteria were resistant. The folding variant of alpha-lactalbumin is a new example of naturally occurring molecules with antimicrobial activity.

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