Cryo-transmission electron tomography of native casein micelles from bovine milk

R. Trejo, T. Dokland, J. Jurat-Fuentes, F. Harte

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92 Scopus citations


Caseins are the principal protein components in milk and an important ingredient in the food industry. In liquid milk, caseins are found as micelles of casein proteins and colloidal calcium nanoclusters. Casein micelles were isolated from raw skim milk by size exclusion chromatography and suspended in milk protein-free serum produced by ultrafiltration (molecular weight cut-off of 3 kDa) of raw skim milk. The micelles were imaged by cryo-electron microscopy and subjected to tomographic reconstruction methods to visualize the 3-dimensional and internal organization of native casein micelles. This provided new insights into the internal architecture of the casein micelle that had not been apparent from prior cryo-transmission electron microscopy studies. This analysis demonstrated the presence of water-filled cavities (∼20 to 30. nm in diameter), channels (diameter greater than ∼5. nm), and several hundred high-density nanoclusters (6 to 12. nm in diameter) within the interior of the micelles. No spherical protein submicellar structures were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5770-5775
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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