Caseins: Versatility of Their Micellar Organization in Relation to the Functional and Nutritional Properties of Milk

Ashish Runthala, Mustapha Mbye, Mutamed Ayyash, Yajun Xu, Afaf Kamal-Eldin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The milk of mammals is a complex fluid mixture of various proteins, minerals, lipids, and other micronutrients that play a critical role in providing nutrition and immunity to newborns. Casein proteins together with calcium phosphate form large colloidal particles, called casein micelles. Caseins and their micelles have received great scientific interest, but their versatility and role in the functional and nutritional properties of milk from different animal species are not fully understood. Caseins belong to a class of proteins that exhibit open and flexible conformations. Here, we discuss the key features that maintain the structures of the protein sequences in four selected animal species: cow, camel, human, and African elephant. The primary sequences of these proteins and their posttranslational modifications (phosphorylation and glycosylation) that determine their secondary structures have distinctively evolved in these different animal species, leading to differences in their structural, functional, and nutritional properties. The variability in the structures of milk caseins influence the properties of their dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, as well as their digestibility and allergic properties. Such differences are beneficial to the development of different functionally improved casein molecules with variable biological and industrial utilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2023
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • African elephant
  • camel
  • casein
  • casein micelles
  • cow
  • functional properties
  • human
  • milk proteins
  • nutritional properties
  • structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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