BACKGROUND: The number and surface nature of amino acids (AAs) in substrate proteins available to hydrolytic enzymes are critical. Among them, the micro-environmental properties of specific AAs in substrates before hydrolysis would probably dominate the susceptibility of substrates to enzymatic hydrolysis. Fundamental knowledge concerning this regard is lacking. The objective of this work was to investigate the relationship between the exposure level of AAs in acid-deamidated wheat gluten and their susceptibilities to in vitro enzymatic hydrolysis by pancreatin through both high-performance liquid chromatography and Raman spectra. Wheat gluten deamidated with HCl (HDWG), citric acid (CDWG), succinic acid (SDWG) and acetic acid (ADWG) at the same degree of deamidation under the same heat treatment were chosen as the substrates. Substrate characterisations including degree of hydrolysis, surface hydrophobicity and structural characteristics before hydrolysis, together with analysis of free AAs of the corresponding hydrolysates during hydrolysis, were investigated.
RESULTS: Hydrolysates from SDWG had the highest value for the degree of hydrolysis. The susceptibility of CDWG to pancreatin hydrolysis was the lowest, lower than native wheat gluten (CK) after the initial 36 h. Compared with free AAs, the mole increase profiles of CK, Arg production levelled off in HDWG after 12 h whereas it was inhibited in ADWG. For SDWG, Arg release was dramatically inhibited after 12 h and was replaced by Trp. Investigations using Raman spectra of the micro-environment of Cys, Trp, Tyr and His and the mole increase trend of them indicated that the exposure level of these amino acids in substrates was positively related to their susceptibilities to pancreatin hydrolysis especially after 24 h of hydrolysis.
CONCLUSION: Deamidation by four acids has a distinct influence on the structural characteristics of wheat gluten substrates. Although the substrates were selected at the same level of deamidation by the same heat treatment, their resultant conformational differences significantly influenced the exposure level of amino acids for binding to enzymes and the susceptibility of substrates to in vitro enzymatic hydrolysis. Therefore, it had an influence on changing enzyme cutting sites of pancreatin. This information will provide a better understanding of specific behaviour of AAs in wheat gluten during enzymatic hydrolysis from a new perspective. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry