Insight into Chicken Egg Proteins and Their Role in Chemical Defense Mechanism
Chicken eggs are considered as complete food having a perfect balance of essential amino acids
needed for building and repairing of body tissues. Eggs get infected by vertical as well as horizontal
transmission of bacteria, thereby posing risk to human health. However, nature has bestowed an egg with
inherent protective mechanism to combat these problems. There are 2 main natural defenses in an egg viz.
physical and chemical. The physical defense against bacteria invasion is accomplished by eggshell,
together with the cuticle and membranes. The chemical defense consists of proteins that exhibit
antimicrobial activity and are mainly present in albumen and to a lesser extent in yolk and shell. Eggshell
matrix contains many antimicrobial proteins namely ovocleidin-17, ovocleidin-116, ovocalyxin-21, ovocalyxin-
25, ovocalyxin-32 and ovocalyxin-36 and they have shown in vitro antimicrobial activity against many
microbes, mostly because of their strong binding affinity for bacterial polysaccharides. Similar to eggshell,
the albumen also contains several antimicrobial proteins with important ones being ovotransferrin,
ovomucoid, lysozyme, ovoinhibitor, avidin and cystatin. Ovotransferrin exerts antibacterial effect based on iron
deprivation method. Ovomucoid causes inactivation of trypsin enzyme and ovoinhibitor inhibit bacterial and
fungal serine proteinase. Lysozyme causes splitting of bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan bond between Nacetylmuramic
acid and N-acetyl-glucosamine. Cystatin inhibits sulphydryl proteinases while as avidin
shows strong binding affinity for biotin. Yolk proteins include lipovitellin, phosvitin and Livetin. Lipoproteins
have been reported to be antibacterial and antiviral. Phosvitin has high metal-chelating ability and (γ-livetin
(Immunoglobulin Y) binds and immobilize bacteria, thereby exert antimicrobial effect. Following the
exploration of mechanism of action and antimicrobial selectivity of all these chicken egg proteins, they could
be used as a viable therapeutic alternative in animal and human production.
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