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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308618

Title: Relationship between water-holding capacity and protein denaturation in broiler breast meat

item Bowker, Brian
item Zhuang, Hong

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2015
Publication Date: 5/25/2015
Citation: Bowker, B.C., Zhuang, H. 2015. Relationship between water-holding capacity and protein denaturation in broiler breast meat. Poultry Science. 94:1657-1664.

Interpretive Summary: Water-holding capacity (WHC) refers to the ability of meat to retain moisture and is an important quality attribute in both fresh and further processed poultry products. The biochemical and structural mechanisms that influence WHC in chicken muscle are not well understood. Findings from this study indicate that, unlike meat from other species, low-WHC characteristics in broiler breast meat are not caused by extensive protein denaturation.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between protein denaturation and water-holding capacity (WHC) attributes in broiler breast meat. Boneless skinless breast fillets (n=72) were collected from a commercial processing plant at 2 h postmortem and segregated into low-WHC and high-WHC groups based on muscle pH and color (L*a*b*). At 6 and 24 h postmortem, brine uptake (%), cooking loss (%), and protein solubility (sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar) were measured and protein fractions were analyzed using SDS-PAGE. Drip loss accumulation (%) was measured after storage for 2 and 7 days postmortem. High-WHC fillets exhibited lower L*-lightness values and greater pH values at 4 and 24 h postmortem than low-WHC fillets. High-WHC fillets had greater brine uptake and less cooking loss at both 6 and 24 h postmortem compared to low-WHC fillets. Aging from 6 to 24 h postmortem increased brine uptake in high-WHC fillets, but did not affect cooking loss in either low-WHC or high-WHC fillets. Drip loss accumulation was greater in low-WHC fillets at both 2 and 7 days postmortem. Myofibrillar protein solubility decreased with postmortem time but was not different between low-WHC and high-WHC fillets. Sarcoplasmic protein solubility increased with postmortem time and was greater in high-WHC fillets. SDS-PAGE analysis indicated that low-WHC fillets exhibited more glycogen phosphorylase denaturation than high-WHC fillets as evidenced by a more extensive shift of the protein from the sarcoplasmic to the myofibrillar protein fraction during isolation procedures. Correlation analysis indicated that overall protein solubility measurements were not related to WHC attributes but that the degree of glycogen phosphorylase denaturation was significantly related (|r| = 0.58 to 0.79) to measures of WHC. Data suggest that the denaturation of glycogen phosphorylase onto myofibrils may influence WHC but that inherent differences in myofibrillar protein denaturation are not the predominant source of WHC variation in broiler breast fillets.