Discovery of oxidative enzymes for food engineering. Tyrosinase and sulfhydryl oxidase: Dissertation

Greta Faccio

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


Enzymes offer many advantages in industrial processes, such as high specificity, mild treatment conditions and low energy requirements. Therefore, the industry has exploited them in many sectors including food processing. Enzymes can modify food properties by acting on small molecules or on polymers such as carbohydrates or proteins. Crosslinking enzymes such as tyrosinases and sulfhydryl oxidases catalyse the formation of novel covalent bonds between specific residues in proteins and/or peptides, thus forming or modifying the protein network of food. In this study, novel secreted fungal proteins with sequence features typical of tyrosinases and sulfhydryl oxidases were identified through a genome mining study. Representatives of both of these enzyme families were selected for heterologous production in the filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei and biochemical characterisation. Firstly, a novel family of putative tyrosinases carrying a shorter sequence than the previously characterised tyrosinases was discovered. These proteins lacked the whole linker and C-terminal domain that possibly play a role in cofactor incorporation, folding or protein activity. One of these proteins, AoCO4 from Aspergillus oryzae, was produced in T. reesei with a production level of about 1.5 g/l. The enzyme AoCO4 was correctly folded and bound the copper cofactors with a type-3 copper centre. However, the enzyme had only a low level of activity with the phenolic substrates tested. Highest activity was obtained with 4 tert-butylcatechol. Since tyrosine was not a substrate for AoCO4, the enzyme was classified as catechol oxidase. Secondly, the genome analysis for secreted proteins with sequence features typical of flavin-dependent sulfhydryl oxidases pinpointed two previously uncharacterised proteins AoSOX1 and AoSOX2 from A. oryzae. These two novel sulfhydryl oxidases were produced in T. reesei with production levels of 70 and 180 mg/l, respectively, in shake flask cultivations. AoSOX1 and AoSOX2 were FAD-dependent enzymes with a dimeric tertiary structure and they both showed activity on small sulfhydryl compounds such as glutathione and dithiothreitol, and were drastically inhibited by zinc sulphate. AoSOX2 showed good stability to thermal and chemical denaturation, being superior to AoSOX1 in this respect. Thirdly, the suitability of AoSOX1 as a possible baking improver was elucidated. The effect of AoSOX1, alone and in combination with the widely used improver ascorbic acid was tested on yeasted wheat dough, both fresh and frozen, and on fresh water-flour dough. In all cases, AoSOX1 had no effect on the fermentation properties of fresh yeasted dough. AoSOX1 negatively affected the fermentation properties of frozen doughs and accelerated the damaging effects of the frozen storage, i.e. giving a softer dough with poorer gas retention abilities than the control. In combination with ascorbic acid, AoSOX1 gave harder doughs. In accordance, rheological studies in yeast-free dough showed that the presence of only AoSOX1 resulted in weaker and more extensible dough whereas a dough with opposite properties was obtained if ascorbic acid was also used. Doughs containing ascorbic acid and increasing amounts of AoSOX1 were harder in a dose-dependent manner. Sulfhydryl oxidase AoSOX1 had an enhancing effect on the dough hardening mechanism of ascorbic acid. This was ascribed mainly to the production of hydrogen peroxide in the SOX reaction which is able to convert the ascorbic acid to the actual improver dehydroascorbic acid. In addition, AoSOX1 could possibly oxidise the free glutathione in the dough and thus prevent the loss of dough strength caused by the spontaneous reduction of the disulfide bonds constituting the dough protein network. Sulfhydryl oxidase AoSOX1 is therefore able to enhance the action of ascorbic acid in wheat dough and could potentially be applied in wheat dough baking.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Saloheimo, Markku, Supervisor
Award date31 May 2011
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs978-951-38-7736-1
Electronic ISBNs978-951-38-7737-8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • genome mining
  • heterologous expression
  • Trichoderma reesei
  • Aspergillus oryzae
  • sulfhydryl oxidase
  • tyrosinase
  • catechol oxidase
  • wheat dough
  • ascorbic acid


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