Castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) is an oilseed crop of high economic value due to the fact of presenting a clearly defined market for the oil extracted from its seeds. Castor cake, which is a residue of oil extraction, is at the moment receiving special attention because of its high protein content. However, among the proteins found in this cake it is observed the presence of ricin, a cytotoxin, which turns this seed dangerous to be used as an alternative protein source for animal feed. The present research has the objective of identifying the best experimental treatment for extraction of ricin from castor cake, with the aim of future studies of loss of ricin integrity, which would ensure the safety of the product. With this aim, it was initiated the search for a buffer of higher capacity of proteins extraction, using the response surface methodology. A central composite design was developed in order to determine the best pH and NaCl concentration for extraction. Of the five different pH values (4.0, 4.6, 6.0, 7.4, 8.0) and NaCl (0.0M, 0.3M, 1.0M, 1.7M, 2.0M) used, the treatment containing 0.2M potassium phosphate / 1.7M NaCl pH 7.4 was chosen as the best. The amount of protein extracted in this treatment reached values four times larger than the minimum found in other treatment studied. The electrophoresis analysis showed that there was no preferential extraction of ricin in the treatments; however purification steps using dialysis and precipitation with ammonium sulfate led to a better resolution of the two polypeptide chains presents in ricin.
pH; NaCl; electrophoresis; cytotoxin; surface response