The outer layer of the vitelline membrane from hen egg yolk consists of ovomucin, vitelline membrane outer layer protein I (VMOI) and lysozyme. Here we report the occurrence of a further basic protein (pI 11.5) in the outer layer, which was designated as vitelline membrane outer layer protein II (VMOII). It was dissociated from the outer layer in a 10% (w/v) NaCl solution and purified to homogeneity by ion-exchange chromatography. VMOII is a simple protein with a molecular mass of 6000 Da, as determined by sedimentation equilibrium analysis. The amino acid composition of VMOII was characterized by the absence of Met and high contents of cystine (half) (14%) and basic amino acids (6% Arg, 6% Lys and 3% His). Analysis of carboxymethylated VMOII indicated that all cysteine residues were involved in disulphide bonding, which appears to facilitate the binding of SDS to the protein. Sequence comparison of the N-terminal 20 residues revealed no identity with other known proteins. VMOII contained a small amount of alpha-helix and was quite resistant to heat denaturation.

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