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- Coloring Pigments Found in Meat Main Page
- Myoglobin
- Hemoglobin
- Color Intensity
- Meat Color and PH
- Color Stability
- Cooked Meat Pigments
- Pinking of Uncurred Cooked Products
- Irridiscence in Processed Meat Products


  • MW 16,000, Sarcoplasmic protein
  • Iron porphyrin compound with globin moiety attached
  • Iron has 6 bond orbitals, four covalently attached to four nitrogen of the porphyrin ring structure, one attached to a globin protein
  • The 6th bond orbital is open for formation of complexes with several compounds
  • Oxidation state of iron and chemical occupying the 6th orbital determine color of meat.

Myoglobin is a monomeric heme protein found mainly in muscle tissue where it serves as an intracellular storage site for oxygen. During periods of oxygen deprivation oxymyoglobin releases its bound oxygen which is then used for metabolic purposes.The tertiary structure of myoglobin is that of a typical water soluble globular protein. Its secondary structure is unusual in that it contains a very high proportion (75%) of a-helical secondary structure. A myoglobin polypeptide is comprised of 8 separate right handed a-helices, designated A through H, that are connected by short non helical regions.


Amino acid R-groups packed into the interior of the molecule are predominantly hydrophobic in character while those exposed on the surface of the molecule are generally hydrophilic, thus making the molecule relatively water soluble.

Each myoglobin molecule contains one heme prosthetic group inserted into a hydrophobic cleft in the protein. Each heme residue contains one central coordinately bound iron atom that is normally in the Fe2+, or ferrous, oxidation state. The oxygen carried by hemeproteins is bound directly to the ferrous iron atom of the heme prosthetic group. Oxidation of the iron to the Fe3+, ferric, oxidation state renders the molecule incapable of normal oxygen binding. Hydrophobic interactions between the tetrapyrrole ring and hydrophobic amino acid R groups on the interior of the cleft in the protein strongly stabilize the heme protein conjugate. In addition a nitrogen atom from a histidine R group located above the plane of the heme ring is coordinated with the iron atom further stabilizing the interaction between the heme and the protein. In oxymyoglobin the remaining bonding site on the iron atom (the 6th coordinate position) is occupied by the oxygen, whose binding is stabilized by a second histidine residue.
Carbon monoxide also binds coordinately to heme iron atoms in a manner similar to that of oxygen, but the binding of carbon monoxide to heme is much stronger than that of oxygen. The preferential binding of carbon monoxide to heme iron is largely responsible for the asphyxiation that results from carbon monoxide poisoning.