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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Drying of red spring wheat seedlings (Triticum aestivum L.) by various methods and investigation of its phenylalanine ammonialyase stability in an in vitro protein digestion Lam, Melanie


Phenylketonuria and hyperphenylalanemia are autosomal recessive inborn errors of phenylalanine metabolism that are caused by mutations in the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Due to the stringency of the present dietary therapy, alternative treatments are being studied. Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is one of the potential dietary supplements for these patients. PAL is a well-studied plant enzyme which breaks down phenylalanine into trans-cinnamic acid and ammonia (Camm and Towers, 1973). It is found in the cytoplasm of the plant cells and is naturally encapsulated by plant cell walls which may protect it against the acidic pH environment in the gastrointestinal tract. It presumably degrades ingested Phe that circulates in the intestinal lumen. In this study, red spring wheat seedlings (Triticum aestivum L.) found to contain high PAL activity naturally were investigated as a potential alternative oral therapy. Specifically, the objectives were (1) to evaluate different drying methods on generating concentrated and dried preparation of wheat seedlings containing high levels of PAL activity; (2) to examine the retention of PAL activity over three months of storage under various storage conditions; (3) to determine the stability of PAL activity in simulated human digestion condition to establish if further study of using plant source enzyme in vivo is warranted. Freeze-drying (FD) was found to have retained the most activity (>90 % recovery dry wt basis) compared to air-drying (AD) and vacuum-microwave drying (VMD) for both leaf and residual seed/root samples. Pre-freezing of leaf tissues at -18 °C before FD significantly retained the highest PAL activity compared to pre-freezing at -25 °C, -35 °C, and -80 °C (P<0.05). Over three months of storage, 60-80 % of PAL activity was recovered in leaf and —100 % was recovered in residual seed/root tissues after storage at -20 °C. After in vitro protein digestion, 36% and 42 % of PAL activity was recovered in fresh leaf and root tissues respectively; however, FD tissues were found to be susceptible to proteases and acidic environment and no activity was recovered after three hours of in vitro protein digestion. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of the residual Phe after in vitro protein digestion confirmed that fresh tissues had significantly higher conversion of Phe than that of FD tissues. Together, these results suggest that red spring wheat seedlings may have potential as a dietary supplement for phenylketonuric patients while further study to enhance PAL activity in plant preparations is required.

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