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Portrait of Tommy Cedervall; Photo: Kennet Ruona

Tommy Cedervall

Associate Professor, Coordinator Nanosafety

Portrait of Tommy Cedervall; Photo: Kennet Ruona

Alpha1-microglobulin chromophores are located to three lysine residues semiburied in the lipocalin pocket and associated with a novel lipophilic compound


  • T Berggård
  • A Lindqvist
  • T Cedervall
  • B Akerström
  • I B Thøgersen
  • J J Enghild
  • A Cohen
  • P Persson
  • J A Jönsson
  • M Silow

Summary, in English

Alpha1-microglobulin (alpha1m) is an electrophoretically heterogeneous plasma protein. It belongs to the lipocalin superfamily, a group of proteins with a three-dimensional (3D) structure that forms an internal hydrophobic ligand-binding pocket. Alpha1m carries a covalently linked unidentified chromophore that gives the protein a characteristic brown color and extremely heterogeneous optical properties. Twenty-one different colored tryptic peptides corresponding to residues 88-94, 118-121, and 122-134 of human alpha1m were purified. In these peptides, the side chains of Lys92, Lys118, and Lys130 carried size heterogeneous, covalently attached, unidentified chromophores with molecular masses between 122 and 282 atomic mass units (amu). In addition, a previously unknown uncolored lipophilic 282 amu compound was found strongly, but noncovalently associated with the colored peptides. Uncolored tryptic peptides containing the same Lys residues were also purified. These peptides did not carry any additional mass (i.e., chromophore) suggesting that only a fraction of the Lys92, Lys118, and Lys130 are modified. The results can explain the size, charge, and optical heterogeneity of alpha1m. A 3D model of alpha1m, based on the structure of rat epididymal retinoic acid-binding protein (ERABP), suggests that Lys92, Lys118, and Lys130 are semiburied near the entrance of the lipocalin pocket. This was supported by the fluorescence spectra of alpha1m under native and denatured conditions, which indicated that the chromophores are buried, or semiburied, in the interior of the protein. In human plasma, approximately 50% of alpha1m is complex bound to IgA. Only the free alpha1m carried colored groups, whereas alpha1m linked to IgA was uncolored.


  • Department of Experimental Medical Science
  • Biochemistry and Structural Biology
  • Department of Biology
  • Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University
  • Centre for Analysis and Synthesis

Publishing year







Protein Science





Document type

Journal article


The Protein Society


  • Medicinal Chemistry


  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Color
  • Glycoproteins/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A/chemistry
  • Lysine/chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Peptide Fragments/chemistry
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Rats
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Trypsin Inhibitor, Kunitz Soybean




  • ISSN: 0961-8368