What are proteins?
Proteins are very large molecules constructed from one or more unbranched chain of amino acids – that is, they are polymers.
A typical protein contains 200–300 amino acids but some are much smaller. The smallest are often called peptides and the largest is titin, a protein found in skeletal and cardiac muscle. Titin contains 26,926 amino acids in a single chain!
Every function in the living cell depends on proteins:
- Motion and locomotion of cells and organisms depends on contractile proteins, like muscles.
- The catalysis of all biochemical reactions is done by enzymes, which contain protein.
- The structure of cells and body tissue is largely made of protein.
- The transport of materials in blood depends on proteins.
- Hormone receptors are proteins.
- Transcription factors responsible for turning genes on and off to guide the differentiation of the cell and its later responsiveness to signals reaching it are proteins.
And there are many more vital functions! Proteins are truly the physical basis of life and essential elements of the human diet.
Proteins in the food industry
Proteins enter the food chain in many different ways, shapes and forms and the food industry remains committed to produce foods containing proteins and high nutritional value.
Soluble proteins used in the food industry can be divided into two general categories, based on the effect of acid on protein structure in water solution:
- Those with a generally flexible, random coiled structure in native form such as casein and gelatine. These proteins precipitate upon acidification and thereby lose their solubility. Solubility is essential for exhibiting functional properties such as emulsifying, foaming and water binding properties.
- The proteins with generally compact, inflexible structures, like whey from milk, and soy and pea proteins, which are all mixtures of different types of serum albumins and globulins. In their native form, these proteins do not precipitate upon acidification. However, when albumins and globulins are denatured, usually by heat treatment, their protein structures unfold and they will precipitate and lose solubility when acidified. Loss of solubility is most extreme close to the iso-electric pH which is around pH 4.5.
Nandi’s influence on protein development
Nandi Proteins’ technology improves the properties of globulins and albumins by reacting with different types of sugars. The resulting proteins have increased solubility and are acid stable after denaturation.
By means of controlling the denaturation using a special method, the functionalities such as gelling, water binding and fat binding can be tuned to a customer’s specific requirement.
This basic technology also allows for development of cost-effective methods of enzyme purification while preserving enzyme activity.