Use of high-throughput technology to identify new egg components


The chicken egg is formed in the hen’s left ovary and oviduct. The ovary supports the accumulation of egg yolk proteins and maturation of the ovum. After ovulation, the yolk enters the oviduct, where albumen, eggshell membranes and the eggshell are sequentially deposited in the different segments of the hen’s reproductive tract (magnum, white isthmus and uterus, respectively). The biological role of the chicken egg is to be a natural container of nutrients and bioactive molecules for the extra-uterine development of the embryo.

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Egg proteome

Proteome refers to the complete set of proteins present in a given cell or organism under defined conditions. Proteomics is the study of the proteome, with the goal of identifying and quantifying all proteins, elucidating their interactions, and determining their post-translational modifications.

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The study of proteomes usually involves mass spectrometry-based high-throughput EggProduct-Nys-07.indd 135 7/22/11 12:02:31 PM 136 Improving the safety and quality of eggs and egg products © Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2011 methods for protein identification (Steen and Mann, 2004). Typically, the proteins of a given cell or tissue are extracted and degraded by specific proteases. This highly complex mixture is then introduced into a mass spectrometer for determination of peptide masses as precisely as possible.

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Egg white proteins

Until 1989 only 13 proteins were identified in the egg white (Li-Chan and Nakai, 1989). This was mainly due to the unfavourable composition of the albumen with six major proteins constituting about 86% of the total protein content, and to its high viscosity (D’Ambrosio et al., 2008). For hen egg white proteomic analysis, different strategies and methods have been applied to overcome some technical problems due to egg white consistence.

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