The Role of Ovotransferrin in Egg-White Antimicrobial Activity: A Review

Julie Legros 1,2,Sophie Jan 1,Sylvie Bonnassie 3,Michel Gautier 1,Thomas Croguennec 1,Stéphane Pezennec 1,Marie-Françoise Cochet 1,Françoise Nau 1,Simon C. Andrews 2 and Florence Baron 1

Eggs are a whole food that affordably supports human nutritional requirements worldwide. Eggs strongly resist bacterial infection due to an arsenal of defensive systems, many of which reside in the egg white. However, despite improved control of egg production and distribution, eggs remain a vehicle for foodborne transmission of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis, which continues to represent a major public health challenge. It is generally accepted that iron deficiency, mediated by the iron-chelating properties of the egg-white protein ovotransferrin, has a key role in inhibiting the infection of eggs by Salmonella. Ovotransferrin has an additional antibacterial activity beyond iron-chelation, which appears to depend on direct interaction with the bacterial cell surface, resulting in membrane perturbation. Current understanding of the antibacterial role of ovotransferrin is limited by a failure to fully consider its activity within the natural context of the egg white, where a series of relevant environmental factors (such as alkalinity, high viscosity, ionic composition, and egg white protein interactions) may exert significant influence on ovotransferrin activity. This review provides an overview of what is known and what remains to be determined regarding the antimicrobial activity of ovotransferrin in egg white, and thus enhances understanding of egg safety through the improved insight of this key antimicrobial component of eggs.

1 STLO, INRAE, Institut Agro, 35042 Rennes, France
2 School of Biological Sciences, Health and Life Sciences Building, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AX, UK
3 UFR Sciences de la vie et de L’environnement, Université de Rennes 1, 35000 Rennes, France
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