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Experimental evidence for condensation reactions between sugars and proteins in carbonate skeletons

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Melanoidins, condensation products formed from protein and polysaccharide precursors, were once thought to be an important geological sink for organic carbon. The active microbial recycling of the precursors, coupled with an inability to demonstrate the formation of covalent linkages between amino acids and sugars in melanoidins, has shaped a powerful argument against this view. Yet, melanoidins may still be an abundant source of macromolecules in fossil biominerals such as shells, in which the proteins and polysaccharides are well protected from microbial degradation. We have modelled diagenetic changes in a biomineral by heating at 90°C mixtures of protein, polysaccharides and finely ground calcite crystals in sealed glass vials. Changes to the protein bovine serum albumin (BSA, fraction V) were monitored by means of gel electrophoresis and immunology. In the presence of water, BSA was rapidly hydrolyzed and remained immunologically reactive for less than 9 h. Under anhydrous conditions the protein was immunologically reactive for the whole period of the experiment (1281 h), unless mono- or disaccharide sugars were also present. In the presence of these reactive sugars, browning, a discrete increase in molecular weight of the protein and a concomitant loss of antigenicity confirmed that the sugars were attaching covalently to the protein, forming melanoidins. The de novo formation of products cross-reactive with antibodies raised against organic matter isolated from the shells of a fossil mollusc (Mercenaria mercenaria) indicated that at least in part the model simulated natural diagenesis. We roughly estimate that, at the global scale, 2.4 × 106 tonnes of calcified tissue matrix glycoproteins is processed annually through the melanoidin pathway. This amount would be equivalent to 7 per mil of the total flux of organic carbon into marine sediments.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Vol/bind56
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)1539-1544
Antal sider6
ISSN0016-7037
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1992
Eksternt udgivetJa

ID: 232094625