Blogging a crystal structure a day in 2014


Contributed by

Róisín McMahon

Oh deer...

Roisin McMahon gets us into the jollity of the season….

  • Did Rudolph go to school?
    • No. He was Elf-taught.
  • What do reindeers hang on their Christmas trees?
    • Horn-aments!
  • How come you never head about the tenth reindeer, Olive?
    • Because Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names

What is it?

Today's festive crystal structure is of reindeer β-lactoglobulin. β-lactoglobulin is a whey protein present in the milk of many but not all mammals. It is not found in human milk. Despite extensive investigation, the function of β-lactoglobulin is not yet known. It may be a food source, or it may function as a carrier protein as it is known to bind hydrophobic molecules.


What does it look like?

β-lactoglobulins are part of the lipocalin superfamily. They have a 8 stranded β-barrel fold with one α-helix. Hydrophobic molecules such as retinol or palmitic acid can bind within the centre of the barrel.

Where did the structure come from?

This structure is of reindeer β-lactoglobulin. The protein was purified from reindeer milk. (Q. How do you milk a reindeer? Answers on a postcard please as I really wish I had a punch line for this one.) It is PDB ID 1YUP1.


Oksanen et al., Acta Crystallographica Section D (2006). 62:1369-1375.

Jokes from here and here

Tags: biological   Christmas   milk