Protein-Alkali Reactions: Chemistry, Toxicology, and Nutritional Consequences

  • Mendel Friedman
  • Michael R. Gumbmann
  • Patricia M. Masters
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 177)


Heat and alkali treatment of proteins catalyzes formation of crosslinked amino-acid side chains such as lysinoalanine, ornithino- alanine and lanthionine, and concurrent racemization of L-isomers of all amino acid residues to D-analogues. Factors that favor these transformations include high pH and temperature, long exposure, and certain inductive or steric properties of the various amino acid side chains. Factors that minimize crosslink formation include the presence of certain additives, such as cysteine or sulfite ions, and acylation of ε-NH2 groups of lysine side chains. Free and protein-bound lysinoalanine and D-serine induce nephrocytomegaly in rat kidney tissues. The presence of lysinoalanine and D-amino acid residues along a protein chain decreases its digestibility and nutritional quality. Understanding the factors that govern the formation of potentially harmful unnatural amino acid residues in food proteins and the toxic and nutritionally antagonistic action of these compounds in animals should lead to better and safer foods.


Amino Acid Side Chain Wheat Gluten Protein Efficiency Ratio Lysine Side Chain Amino Acid Racemization 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mendel Friedman
    • 1
  • Michael R. Gumbmann
    • 1
  • Patricia M. Masters
    • 2
  1. 1.Western Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research ServiceU. S. Department of AgricultureBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA

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