The detection of residual pectin methylesterase activity in pasteurized tomato juices


Domenico Castaldo Fax:+39 81 921921. e-mail:


The enzyme pectin methylesterase (PME) is believed to be involved in the destabilization and cloud loss of vegetable juices through the de-esterification of pectin followed by the successive coprecipitation of the pectate with insoluble materials present in the juices. Cloud destabilization is often observed even when the vegetable products have been subjected to thermal treatment to produce sterile products and also to stabilize the cloud. Therefore it is possible that loss of cloud may be because of residual enzymatic activities surviving the thermal treatments. However, so far no evidence demonstrating the existence of residual PME activity in pasteurized juices has been published. In this paper it is reported that in industrial tomato products showing cloud loss residual PME activity is present. It has been possible to detect this very low activity by an affinity chromatography procedure. The method is based on a cyanogen bromide-activated resin which is coupled with a pectin methylesterase inhibitor protein purified from kiwi fruit. This resin binds native PME with high selectivity and the enzyme can be concentrated from the product in a single step. Thus, the very low PME residual activity present in pasteurized juice and generally not detectable with common techniques can be detected and easily determined with the method described in this paper.