Heat-Treated Lysozyme Hydrochloride: A Study on Its Structural Modifications and Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Activity

Lysozyme (E.C., an about 14 kDa protein and pI 11, widely spread in nature, is present in humans mainly in milk, saliva, and intestinal mucus as a part of innate defense mechanisms.
It is endowed with antimicrobial activity due to its action as an N-acetylmuramidase, cleaving the
1-4β glycosidic linkage in the peptidoglycan layer of Gram-positive bacteria. This antimicrobial activity is exerted only against a limited number of Gram-negative bacteria. Different action mechanisms are proposed to explain its activity against Gram-negative bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The antiviral activity prompted the study of a possible application of lysozyme in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Among the different sources of lysozyme, the chicken egg albumen was chosen, being the richest source of this protein (c-type lysozyme, 129 amino acids). Interestingly, the activity of lysozyme hydrochloride against SARS-CoV-2 was related to the heating (to about 100 ◦C) of this molecule. A chemical–physical characterization was required to investigate the possible modifications of native lysozyme hydrochloride by heat treatment. The FTIR analysis of the two preparations of lysozyme hydrochloride showed appreciable differences in the secondary structure of the two protein chains. HPLC and NMR analyses, as well as the enzymatic activity determination, did not show significant modifications.

Molecules 2023, 28, 2848.

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