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Characterizing the Catalytic Action of μ-Calpain on Myofibrillar Protein Structure

Solving the problem of inconsistent meat tenderness is a top priority of the meat industry. This requires a greater understanding of the processes that affect meat tenderness and the adoption of such information by the meat industry. It is essential that we understand the mechanism of meat tenderisation of which, the calpain protease system is believed to play a central role. This thesis focuses on three aspects; characterisation of calpain activity, the effect of porcine μ-calpain on myofibril degradation and the effect of μ-calpain on specific proteins desmin and troponin-T. To study the effect of calpain activity, fluorogenic assays were used to determine: μ-calpain concentration for optimal peptide cleavage; calcium requirements and the effect of chelating substances on the activity of μ-calpain. In addition, the affinity of μ-calpain for substrates CalS-I and CalS-III were assessed. The effect of μ-calpain on myofibril degradation was evaluated through the use of myofibrillar fragmentation index and density marker beads. Myofibrils were digested at three different temperatures for varying time periods. Conflicting results were displayed and it was concluded that these methods are not accurate, thus further research should be conducted to ensure inconsistencies are eliminated. Specific proteins desmin and troponin-T have previously been shown to exhibit degradation in the presence of calcium and μ-calpain. SDS-polyacrylamide electrophoresis, western blotting and densitometry measurements were utilized to investigate this effect. It was concluded that μ-calpain plays a significant role in the post mortem proteolysis of myofibrillar protein. This thesis provides information and strives to give a better understanding of the proteolytic changes that occur within muscle. Understanding how these mechanisms affect meat on a cellular level, can help to control the influence they inflict on meat quality.
Type of thesis
Fraser-Smith, E. L. (2006). Characterizing the Catalytic Action of μ-Calpain on Myofibrillar Protein Structure (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2253
The University of Waikato
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