Can cheese mites, maggots and molds enhance bioactivity? Peptidomic investigation of functional peptides in four traditional cheeses

Randall C. Robinson*, Søren Drud-Heydary Nielsen, David C. Dallas, Daniela Barile

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aside from their amino acid content, dairy proteins are valuable for their ability to carry encrypted bioactive peptides whose activities are latent until released by digestive enzymes or endogenous enzymes within the food. Peptides can possess a wide variety of functionalities, such as antibacterial, antihypertensive, and antioxidative properties, as demonstrated by in vitro and in vivo studies. This phenomenon raises the question as to what impact various traditional cheese-making processes have on the formation of bioactive peptides in the resulting products. In this study, we have profiled the naturally-occurring peptides in two hard and two soft traditional cheeses and have identified their known bioactive sequences. While past studies have typically identified fewer than 100 peptide sequences in a single cheese, we have used modern instrumentation to identify between 2900 and 4700 sequences per cheese, an increase by a factor of about 50. We demonstrated substantial variations in proteolysis and peptide formation between the interior and rind of each cheese, which we ascribed to the differences in microbial composition between these regions. We identified a total of 111 bioactive sequences among the four cheeses, with the greatest number of sequences, 89, originating from Mimolette. The most common bioactivities identified were antimicrobial and inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme. This work revealed that cheese proteolysis and the resulting peptidomes are more complex than originally thought in terms of the number of peptides released, variation in peptidome across sites within a single cheese, and variation in bioactive peptides among cheese-making techniques.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood & Function
Pages (from-to)633-645
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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