• small-angle x-ray scattering;
  • β-lactoglobulin


Small-angle x-ray scattering was used for studying intermediate species, isolated after heat-induced aggregation of the A variant of bovine β-lactoglobulin. The intermediates were separated in two fractions, the heated metastable dimer and heated metastable oligomers larger than the dimer. The pair distance distribution functions for the two intermediate fractions as well as for the native protein have been obtained by indirect Fourier transformation. In addition, the scattering intensity data for samples of the native protein at different concentrations were fitted using a combination of monomer and dimer form factors, which provides an estimate of the amount of monomer in solutions. By subtracting the contribution from the monomer, the scattering intensity from the dimer of the native protein can be determined and compared with the results for the metastable dimer. An ellipsoidal model was used to fit the data for the metastable dimer, and for comparison the same analysis was performed on the dimer of the native protein. The results show that the metastable dimer is more elongated than the dimer of the native protein and it occupies a volume 1.4-fold larger, in agreement with a more loose, partially unfolded conformation. The same ellipsoidal model was used to analyze the data for the fraction of larger metastable oligomers. In this case, an even more elongated ellipsoid was obtained, suggesting a linear association of monomers in the oligomers. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 70: 377–390, 2003