Conformational Changes of Whey and Pea Proteins upon Emulsification Approached by Front-Surface Fluorescence

Emma B.A. Hinderink, Claire C. Berton-Carabin*, Karin Schroën, Alain Riaublanc, Bérénice Houinsou-Houssou, Adeline Boire, Claude Genot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Proteins are widely used to stabilize emulsions, and plant proteins have raised increasing interest for this purpose. The interfacial and emulsifying properties of proteins depend largely on their molecular properties. We used fluorescence spectroscopy to characterize the conformation of food proteins from different biological origins (dairy or pea) and transformation processes (commercial or lab-made isolates) in solution and at the oil-water interface. The fourth derivative of fluorescence spectra provided insights in the local environment of tryptophan (Trp) residues and thus in the protein structure. In emulsions, whey proteins adsorbed with their Trp-rich region at the oil-water interface. Proteins in the commercial pea isolate were present as soluble aggregates, and no changes in the local environment of the Trp residues were detected upon emulsification, suggesting that these structures adsorb without conformational changes. The lab-purified pea proteins were less aggregated and a Trp-free region of the vicilin adsorbed at the oil-water interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6601-6612
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • oil-water interface
  • plant protein
  • right-angle fluorescence
  • tryptophanyl
  • UV-visible absorption


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