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How sweet a protein can be.

A reddish fruit sold in Nigerian markets has provided scientists with yet another supersweet protein. Ounce per ounce, this 52-amino-acid protein, called brazzein, provides 2,000 times the sweetness of sugar, reports Ding Ming, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and Wisconsin colleague GSran Hellekant isolated the protein from Pantadiplandra brazzeana, a vine plant that produces a fruit slightly bigger than a grape.

"The sugar [content] is not that high; we guess that the sweet protein plays the same role as sugar," says Ming. Sweetness may encourage animals to eat such fruits and help disperse seeds, he explains.

Brazzein's lysine-rich amino acid sequence bears little resemblance to those of other sweet proteins (SN: 5/19/90, p. 315), which tend to contain many more amino acids, says Ming. This protein also proves quite stable, surviving 98 degrees C temperatures for at least two hours and maintaining its sweetness in a wide range of acidic and alkaline solutions, the researchers report. Moreover, electrical recordings from taste nerves of primates reveal that the protein elicits a purely sweet sensation, with no aftertaste. The Wisconsin scientists have applied for a patent for the protein.
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Title Annotation:recently isolated amino acid protein, brazzein, provides 2,000 times the sweetness of sugar
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 8, 1993
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