In this study, three synthetic zinc-chelating peptides (ZCPs) derived from sea cucumber hydrolysates with limited or none of the common metal-chelating amino-acid residues were analyzed by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, zeta-potential, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The amount of zinc bound to the ZCPs reached maximum values with ZCP:zinc at 1:1, and it was not further increased by additional zinc presence. The secondary structures of ZCPs were slightly altered, whereas no formation of multimers was observed. Furthermore, zinc increased the zeta-potential value by neutralizing the negatively charged residues. Only free carboxyl in C-terminus of ZCPs was identified as the primary binding site of zinc. These results provide the theoretical foundation to understand the mechanism of zinc chelation by peptides.
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