Bovine milk systems were analysed for adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) using the luciferase-ATP reaction in a liquid scintillation counter. Approximately 0·2 µmol ATP/1 milk serum were evident both in whole milks and the corresponding skim-milks. ATP was not detectable in skim-milk ultrafiltrates. These findings indicated that ATP was present in a non-dialysable portion of skim-milk. Centri-fugation of whole milks from individual cows at 5500 g for 15 min at 10°C yielded skim-milks essentially devoid of somatic cells and bacteria. However, the ATP in the skim-milks decreased by less than 20% compared with the whole milks indicating that the calcium phosphate-citrate (CPC)–caseinate micelles were the source of the ATP. ATP was not detectable in colloidal phosphate-free milk, from which CPC had been removed, confirming that the ATP was sequestered in the constituent CPC. Likewise, the occurrence of significant amounts of Mg, another potent stabilizer of amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) in other biological systems, was confirmed in the colloidal phosphate of milk. From 0·13 to 0·31 µmole ATP/1 (mean, 0·23) was found in the 9 milk samples studied. The discovery of small but appreciable levels of ATP in the CPC of milk provides further evidence for the analogy previously shown to exist between the CPC complex of milk and the ACP which accumulates in mitochondria. The latter has been postulated to provide an essential precursor for crystalline bone salts to form in ordered calcification processes. The implications of these findings in the biosynthesis of milk are briefly discussed.
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