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Planta. 2002 Sep;215(5):839-46. Epub 2002 Jun 25.

Functional expression of a cDNA encoding pea (Pisum sativum L.) raffinose synthase, partial purification of the enzyme from maturing seeds, and steady-state kinetic analysis of raffinose synthesis.

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Institute of Ecology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, Austria.


Raffinose (O-alpha- D-galactopyranosyl-(1-->6)- O-alpha- D-glucopyranosyl-(1<-->2)- O-beta- D-fructofuranoside) is a widespread oligosaccharide in plant seeds and other tissues. Raffinose synthase (EC is the key enzyme that channels sucrose into the raffinose oligosaccharide pathway. We here report on the isolation of a cDNA encoding for raffinose synthase from maturing pea ( Pisum sativum L.) seeds. The coding region of the cDNA was expressed in Spodoptera frugiperda Sf21 insect cells. The recombinant enzyme, a protein of glycoside hydrolase family 36, displayed similar kinetic properties to raffinose synthase partially purified from maturing seeds by anion-exchange and size-exclusion chromatography. Apart from the natural galactosyl donor galactinol ( O-alpha- D-galactopyranosyl-(1-->1)- L- myo-inositol), p-nitrophenyl alpha- D-galactopyranoside, an artificial substrate, was utilized as a galactosyl donor. An equilibrium constant of 4.1 was determined for the galactosyl transfer reaction from galactinol to sucrose. Steady-state kinetic analysis suggested that raffinose synthase is a transglycosidase operating by a ping-pong reaction mechanism and may also act as a glycoside hydrolase. The enzyme was strongly inhibited by 1-deoxygalactonojirimycin, a potent inhibitor for alpha-galactosidases (EC The physiological implications of these observations are discussed.

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