Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Gliadin Protein in 3D - the enemy revealed
Isn't it deceptively beautiful?
That's a snapshot of the Gliadin molecule (well, actually it's the Crystal structure of HLA-DQ2 complexed with deamidated gliadin peptide - but, close enough for this example). I rendered it using the free Protein Workshop software available at the RCSB Protein Data Bank (which is a really cool tool and database if you are into protein analysis and research - you can't quite get the full effect here with just a 2D snapshot of a full 3-axis / 3D rotation interface).
Gliadin is a glycoprotein present in wheat and other gluten-containing grains. It's one of the primary proteins that people with Celiac disease are sensitive to (particularly that a, ß, and y gliadins). And, as you can see, it's a rather complex molecular structure, and typical of such proteins. This molecule is to be avoided at all cost if you are living with a gluten-free diet and Celiac Disease - it is an enemy.
I was curious to see how the proteins in gluten compared in structure to those in whey (like, β-lactoglobulin - the major whey protein of cow's milk), in an attempt to better understand how the whey protein seems to be able to emulate some "gluten-like" binding abilities in recipes I have been playing with. In a 3D model, there are certainly some similarities between these various proteins - in both their complexity and shapes.
The Gliadin in wheat and other grains is what gives bread some of it's elasticity, allowing it to rise while maintaining that wonderful texture. So, experimenting with alternative means of emulating "gluten" (and not just by using vegetable gums) is certainly something I find continually intriguing. And, now one more tool to be employed in my gluten-free diet research is the Protein Workshop and data-bank. Will it help? Who knows, but it sure is fun to play with!