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J Biol Chem. 1990 Sep 15;265(26):15770-5.

Purification and complete amino acid sequence of a new type of sweet protein taste-modifying activity, curculin.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Education, Yokohama National University, Japan.


A new taste-modifying protein named curculin was extracted with 0.5 M NaCl from the fruits of Curculigo latifolia and purified by ammonium sulfate fractionation, CM-Sepharose ion-exchange chromatography, and gel filtration. Purified curculin thus obtained gave a single band having a Mr of 12,000 on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of 8 M urea. The molecular weight determined by low-angle laser light scattering was 27,800. These results suggest that native curculin is a dimer of a 12,000-Da polypeptide. The complete amino acid sequence of curculin was determined by automatic Edman degradation. Curculin consists of 114 residues. Curculin itself elicits a sweet taste. After curculin, water elicits a sweet taste, and sour substances induce a stronger sense of sweetness. No protein with both sweet-tasting and taste-modifying activities has ever been found. There are five sets of tripeptides common to miraculin (a taste-modifying protein), six sets of tripeptides common to thaumatin (a sweet protein), and two sets of tripeptides common to monellin (a sweet protein). Anti-miraculin serum was not immunologically reactive with curculin. The mechanism of the taste-modifying action of curculin is discussed.

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