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Protease inhibitors of protein nature are rich in seeds of legume crops. There are two common types: Kunitz inhibitor, which mainly inhibits trypsin, and Bowman-Birk inhibitor, which inhibits both trypsin and chymotrypsin. Historically, trypsin inhibitor activity in legume products has been of primary interest for measurement. However, as plant proteins are increasingly used for food or feed in recent years, there is a growing interest in monitoring chymotrypsin inhibitor activity (CIA) in these products as well. Reported methods for CIA assay vary greatly and are incompletely described. No standardized or official method is available. The present study focused on developing a robust method for accurately measuring CIA, using N-benzoyl-L-tyrosine p-nitroanilide (BTpNA) as a substrate. Since BTpNA is not water soluble, a water-miscible organic solvent must be present. After investigating the effects of several factors, such as absorption spectra, organic solvent type and concentration, substrate and enzyme concentrations, inhibitor levels (which affected % chymotrypsin inhibition), the sequence of adding reagents, extractant and extraction time, and so forth, an optimized method for CIA measurement was finally developed. It features dimethylformamide as the organic solvent, the enzyme-last sequence, 5 ml total assay volume, and calculation of the inhibitor activity based on 40% chymotrypsin inhibition. The method can also be slightly modified for measuring chymotrypsin activity. The robust performance of the method was verified by measuring 11 assorted protein products, paving a way for standardization. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: With an increasing use of plant proteins, there is an urgent need to measure chymotrypsin inhibitor activity in various protein products with accuracy. After thoroughly investigating several factors, an optimized method for measuring chymotrypsin inhibitor activity in various protein products was developed. The proposed method is sensitive and robust, providing a basis for standardization. It can also be used for measuring chymotrypsin activity. © Published 2022. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.


Keshun Liu. Method development and optimization for measuring chymotrypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitor activities. Journal of food science. 2022 May;87(5):2018-2033

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PMID: 35451070

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