Abstract Solvent-cleaned Merino wool, which was enzymatically digested with protease K, displayed a fluorescence maximum at 500 nm when excited at 430 nm. The yield of this emission was approximately 15 times greater for a fiber tips digest than for a digest of the mid-length region of the same fibers.
Separation of the components in the wool tip digest by silica gel thin-layer chromatography revealed the presence of several fluorescent species. The chromatographic mobility of these species was similar to the behavior observed in a preparation of authentic 1-methyltetrahydro-P-carboline, 1,3-dicarboxylic acid.
Mass spectroscopy of the fluorescent compounds in the wool tip digest displayed molecular ions, [M + H]+ with m/z = 273.0890 and 257.0560, and molecular weights that define the formulae C14H12N2O4 and C11H8O4N2, respectively, which correspond to β-carboline 1,3-dicarboxylic acids. Mass spectral evidence also indicates the presence of two other β-carbolines.