The amino-acid sequence of beta-lactoglobulin II from horse colostrum (Equus caballus, Perissodactyla): beta-lactoglobulins are retinol-binding proteins.
beta-Lactoglobulin isolated from horse colostrum is heterogeneous and contains two components: beta-lactoglobulin I and beta-lactoglobulin II. These two proteins are monomeric and show differences in their electrophoretic mobilities, chain lengths and primary structures. The complete amino-acid sequence of beta-lactoglobulin II was determined by automated Edman degradation of the intact protein and of the peptides derived from these by digestion with trypsin or chymotrypsin and by chemical cleavage with cyanogen bromide. Unlike other beta-lactoglobulins which contain 162 amino acids, horse beta-lactoglobulin II is unique in that it contains 166 amino acids. The additional four amino acids represent an insertion between positions 116 and 117 of other beta-lactoglobulins so far sequenced, including horse beta-lactoglobulin I. Sequence comparison of beta-lactoglobulins I and II from horse colostrum reveals 48 amino acid substitutions (30%). Such a diversity between members of the beta-lactoglobulin gene family has not been encountered before. Sequence comparison with bovine beta-lactoglobulin A shows 85 amino acid replacements accounting for 53% of the residues. The structural homology with human retinol-binding protein may reveal similar biological functions and clues to the origin of milk proteins.