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J Agric Food Chem. 1999 Oct;47(10):4332-5.

Pyrazine formation from serine and threonine.

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Bowman Gray Technical Center, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27105, USA.


The formation of pyrazines from L-serine and L-threonine has been studied. L-Serine and L-threonine, either alone or combined, were heated at 120 degrees C as low temperature for 4 h or at 300 degrees C as high temperature for 7 min. The pyrazines formed from each reaction were identified by GC/MS, and the yields (to the amino acid used, as parts per million) were determined by GC/FID. It was found that pyrazine, methylpyrazine, ethylpyrazine, 2-ethyl-6-methylpyrazine, and 2,6-diethylpyrazine were formed from serine, whereas 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,6-dimethylpyrazine, trimethylpyrazine, 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine, and 2-ethyl-3, 5-dimethylpyrazine were formed from threonine. Mechanistically, it is proposed that the thermal degradation of serine or threonine is composed of various complex reactions. Among these reactions, decarbonylation followed by dehydration is the main pathway to generate the alpha-aminocarbonyl intermediates leading to the formation of the main product, such as pyrazine from serine or 2, 5-dimethylpyrazine from threonine. Also, deamination after decarbonylation generates more reactive intermediates, alpha-hydroxycarbonyls. Furthermore, aldol condensation of these reactive intermediates provides alpha-dicarbonyls. Subsequently, these alpha-dicarbonyls react with the remaining serine or threonine by Strecker degradation to form additional alpha-aminocarbonyl intermediates, which then form additional pyrazines. In addition, decarboxylation and retroaldol reaction may also involve the generation of the intermediates.

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