Proteolysis of Iron Oxide-Associated Bovine Serum Albumin

Zhaomo Tian, Tao Wang, Anders Tunlid, Per Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proteins are a substantial nitrogen source in soils provided that they can be hydrolyzed into bioavailable small peptides or amino acids. However, the strong associations between proteins and soil minerals restrict such proteolytic reactions. This study focused on how an extracellular fungal protease (Rhizopus sp.) hydrolyzed iron oxide-associated bovine serum albumin (BSA) and the factors that affected the proteolysis. We combined batch experiments with size-exclusion and reversed phase liquid chromatography and in situ infrared spectroscopic measurements to monitor the generation of proteolytic products in solution as well as the real-time changes of the adsorbed BSA during 24 h. Results showed that protease hydrolyzed the iron oxide-associated BSA directly at the surface without an initial desorption of BSA. Concurrently, the protease was adsorbed to vacant surface sites at the iron oxides, which significantly slowed down the rate of proteolysis. This inhibiting effect was counteracted by the presence of preadsorbed phosphate or by increasing the BSA coverage, which prevented protease adsorption. Fast initial rates of iron oxide-associated BSA proteolysis, comparable to proteolysis of BSA in solution, and very slow rates at prolonged proteolysis suggest a large variability in mineral-associated proteins as a nitrogen source in soils and that only a fraction of the protein is bioavailable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5121-5130
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Microbiology


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