Differential scanning calorimetry of milk fat globule membranes

Kenneth C. Appell, Thomas W. Keenan, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Differential scanning calorimetry was employed as an aid in examining the structure of the bovine milk fat globule membrane. At least six major endotherms are observed between 10 and 90°C, corresponding to order-disorder transitions of discrete structural domains of the membrane. These endothermic transitions occur at 16, 28, 43, 58, 68, and 75°C. The transitions occurring between 10 and 50°C were reversible, suggesting the involvement of lipid. However, the high temperature transitions were irreversible. The calorimetric C transition, centered at 43°C, was shown to involve neutral lipid, since the endotherm was reversible, insensitive to proteolysis, and similar to the endotherm of the isolated neutral lipid fraction of the milk fat globule membrane. The glycolipid and phospholipid fractions of the milk fat globule membrane yielded endotherms outside of the temperature range of the C transition. Another endotherm, the D transition (58°C), was found to involve the denaturation of the major membrane coat protein, butyrophilin (band 12). Evidence for this assignment included the following observations: (i) the nearly selective proteolysis of butyrophilin resulted in the complete removal of the D transition, (ii) the butyrophilin-enriched, Triton X-100-insoluble pellet of milk fat globule membrane yielded a relatively normal D transition, and (iii) the irreversible, disulfide-stabilized aggregation of butyrophilin occurred in the membrane solely at the temperature of the D transition. Furthermore, no other prominent milk fat globule membrane polypeptide formed these non-native disulfide crossbridges during the D transition. The sources of the other major endotherms of the milk fat globule membrane have not yet been assigned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 9 1982


  • (Bovine milk)
  • Differential scanning calorimetry
  • Endotherm
  • Fat globule membrane
  • Phase transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)


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