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Sulfur-containing aroma compounds are key contributors to the flavor of a diverse range of foods and beverages. The tropical fruit characters of Vitis vinifera L. cv. Sauvignon blanc wines are attributed to the presence of the aromatic thiols 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol (3MH), 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol-acetate, and 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one (4MMP). These volatile thiols are found in small amounts in grape juice and are formed from nonvolatile cysteinylated precursors during fermentation. In this study, we overexpressed a Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene, STR3, which led to an increase in 3MH release during fermentation of a V. vinifera L. cv. Sauvignon blanc juice. Characterization of the enzymatic properties of Str3p confirmed it to be a pyridoxal-5'-phosphate-dependent cystathionine β-lyase, and we demonstrated that this enzyme was able to cleave the cysteinylated precursors of 3MH and 4MMP to release the free thiols. These data provide direct evidence for a yeast enzyme able to release aromatic thiols in vitro that can be applied in the development of self-cloned yeast to enhance wine flavor.

Citation

Sylvester Holt, Antonio G Cordente, Simon J Williams, Dimitra L Capone, Wanphen Jitjaroen, Ian R Menz, Chris Curtin, Peter A Anderson. Engineering Saccharomyces cerevisiae to release 3-Mercaptohexan-1-ol during fermentation through overexpression of an S. cerevisiae Gene, STR3, for improvement of wine aroma. Applied and environmental microbiology. 2011 Jun;77(11):3626-32

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PMID: 21478306

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