Adapting medical research technology to study gluten composition

Comparison of the type and amounts of gluten proteins for two wheat flour samples with the same total protein content.

A team of researchers from the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory and the University of Manitoba adapted a medical research method so they could analyze individual components of gluten, a key contributor to wheat quality, in a very high level of detail. This new method will create opportunities for further research into gluten’s composition, genetics and relationship to food quality.

Gluten proteins, and the way they relate and interact with each other, dictate the baking quality of wheat flour. As these proteins are made, they may undergo modifications that can affect how the proteins interact with each other and influence gluten properties.

Current methods of analyzing gluten proteins are unable to see the modification of individual proteins, which might limit our understanding of gluten’s connection to food quality. The research team adapted proteoform profiling, a method of analysis used by medical researchers, to detect and isolate proteins linked to food quality. Unlike other methods, proteoform profiling is capable of seeing differences in the composition of individual proteins. This allowed the team to study the structure, purpose and modifications of individual gluten proteins in detail. In the process, they identified two previously unknown modifications.

Quotes:

“Proteoform diversity and its possible implications in protein quality make proteoforms interesting targets for wheat research and development.”

Ray Bacala
Chemist, Wheat Biochemistry
Grain Research Laboratory
Ray Bacala

“Current methods for analyzing gluten proteins cannot always explain the variation in gluten strength among varieties and the impact of environment on dough properties. This new method offers us unique opportunity to better understand the relationship between composition and functionality of gluten proteins, which is critical to wheat quality improvement”

Dr. Bin Xiao Fu
Scientist and Program Manager, Bread and Durum Wheat Research
Grain Research Laboratory
Dr. Bin Xiao Fu

For more information:

Quantitative LC-MS proteoform profiling of intact wheat glutenin subunits

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