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The chemistry of Maillard or browning reactionosf glycated proteins was studied using the model compound, Nu-formyl-W-fructoselysine(f FL), an analog of glycated lysine residues in protein. Incubation of fFL (15 mM) at physiological pH and temperature in 0.2 M phosphate buffer resulted in formation of lVcarboxymethyllysine (CML) in about 40% yield after 15 days. CML was formed by oxidative cleavage of fFL between C-2 and C-3 of the carbohydrate chain and erythronic acid (EA) was identified a s , the split product formed in the reaction. Neither CML nor EA was formed from fFL under a nitrogen atmosphere. The rate of formation of CML was dependent on phosphate concentration in the incubation mixture and the reaction was shown to occur by a free radical mechanism. CML was also identified by amino acid analysis in hydrolysates of both poly-L-lysine and bovine pancreatic ribonuclease glycated in phosphate buffer under air. CML was also detected in human lens proteins and tissue collagens by HPLC and the identification was confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. The presence of both CML and EA in human urine suggests that they are formed by degradation of glycated proteins in vivo. The browning of fFL incubation mixtures proceeded to a greater extent under a nitrogen versus an air atmosphere, suggesting that oxidative degradation of Amadori adducts to form CML may limit the browning reactions of glycated proteins. Since the reaction products, CML and EA, are relatively inert, both chemically and metabolically, oxidative cleavage of Amadori adducts may have a role in limiting the consequences of protein glycation in the body.


This research was originally published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Ahmed MU, Thorpe SR, Baynes JW. Identification of N epsilon-Carboxymethyllysine as a Degradation Product of Fructoselysine in Glycated Protein. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 1986; 261:4889-4894. © the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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