The high temperatures used in the production of milk may induce modifications in proteins structure. Due to occurrence of the Maillard reaction, lactose binds lysine residues in proteins, affecting the nutritional value. Milk is also an important source of allergenic proteins (i.e., caseins, β-lactoglobulin and α-lactalbumin). Thus, this modification may also affect the allergenicity of these proteins. Focusing on milk whey proteins, a screening on different Ultra High Temperatures (UHT) and pasteurized milk samples was performed to identify lactosylation sites, in particular in protein known epitopes, and to verify the correlation between lactosylation and the harshness of the treatment. Whey proteins were extracted from milk samples after caseins precipitations at pH 4.6 and, after chymotryptic and tryptic in solution digestion, peptides were analysed by UPLC-MS and LTQ-Orbitrap. Results show the presence of lactosylated lysine residues in several known epitopes. Then, a β-lactoglobulin epitope was selected and synthesized by solid phase synthesis followed by in solution lactosylation, obtaining high reaction yields and purities. The synthesis of lactosylated allergenic epitopes, described here for the first time, is a useful tool for further studies on the technological impacts on food allergenicity.
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