1. The methods of measuring the base-combining capacities of proteins have been considered, and the constants and corrections that are employed in their calculation have been critically examined.
2. The base-combining capacities of ten casein preparations have been determined. These differed from each other to a far greater extent than can be attributed to the experimental errors involved in their measurement and calculation. The variations were, moreover, systematic in manner, and can be explained as dependent upon the method employed in the preparation of the casein.
3. Casein that had never been exposed to greater alkalinities than those in which it exists in nature combined with approximately 0.0014 mols of sodium hydroxide per gm., while casein prepared nach Hammarsten, and casein that was saturated with base during its preparation, combined with approximately 0.0018 mols of sodium hydroxide per gm.
4. 1 mol of sodium hydroxide, therefore, combined with 735 gm. of casein that had not previously been exposed to alkaline reactions, or with 535 gm. of casein that had previously been saturated with base.
5. If the minimal molecular weight of casein, based upon its tryptophane content, is placed at 12,800, the native protein must, therefore, contain approximately eighteen acid groups, and in addition six acid groups that are released in alkaline solutions, and presumably represent internally bound groups. The total base-combining capacity therefore represents that of a substance with a molecular weight of 12,800 and containing twenty-four acid valences.
6. This base-combining capacity is no greater than can be accounted for on the basis of our knowledge of the structure and composition of casein. On the basis of a molecular weight of 12,800 casein contains at least 19 molecules of glutamic acid, 4 of aspartic, and 8 of hydroxyglutamic acid. If the amino acids in the protein molecule are bound to each other in polypeptide linkage, each of these thirty-one dicarboxylic acids should yield terminal groups. The ammonia in casein suggests that twelve of these groups are bound as amides. As many as nineteen carboxyl groups may, therefore, be free in the protein molecule.
7. Casein contains phosphorus. If this phosphorus represents phosphoric acid, and if we consider that all of the valences of this acid are either themselves free, or that they have liberated carboxyl groups by entering into the structure of the protein molecule, casein should contain nine additional acid groups.
8. Recent analytical results, therefore, indicate that casein contains at least nineteen, and possibly twenty-eight, free acid groups. The physicochemical measurements presented suggest that casein combines with base as though it contained twenty-four acid groups, of which six, or one-fourth, appear to be bound in the native protein. These experimental results are therefore in close agreement with the expectation on the basis of the classical theory of protein structure.