A mixture of monophenol oxidase and catechol oxidase enzymes is present in nearly all plant tissues, and can also be found in bacteria, animals, and fungi. In insects, cuticular polyphenol oxidases are present and their products are responsible for desiccation tolerance.
Grape reaction product (2-S glutathionyl caftaric acid) is an oxidation compound produced by action of PPO on caftaric acid and found in wine. This compound production is responsible for the lower level of browning in certain white wines.
Plants make use of polyphenol oxidase as one in a suite of chemical defences against parasites.
Polyphenol oxidase is an enzyme found throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, including most fruits and vegetables. PPO has importance to the food industry because it catalyzes enzymatic browning when tissue is damaged from bruising, compression or indentations, making the produce less marketable and causing economic loss. Enzymatic browning due to PPO can also lead to loss of nutritional content in fruits and vegetables, further lowering their value.
Because the substrates of these PPO reactions are located in the vacuoles of plant cells damaged mainly by improper harvesting, PPO initiates the chain of browning reactions. Exposure to oxygen when sliced or pureed also leads to enzymatic browning by PPO in fruits and vegetables. Examples in which the browning reaction catalyzed by PPO may be desirable include avocados, prunes, sultana grapes, black tea, and green coffee beans.
In mangoes, PPO catalyzed enzymatic browning is mainly caused by sap burn which leads to skin browning.Catechol oxidase-type PPO is located in the chloroplasts of mango skin cells and its phenolic substrates in the vacuoles. Sap burn is therefore the initiating event of PPO in mango skin, as it breaks down cell compartments. PPO is located in mango skin, sap and pulp, with highest activity levels in skin.
PPO in avocados causes rapid browning upon exposure to oxygen, a multistep process involving oxidation reactions of both monophenols and polyphenols, resulting in o-quinone products subsequently converted irreversibly into brown polymericpigments (melanins).
Present in the chloroplasts and mitochondria of all parts of an apple, PPO is the major enzyme responsible for enzymatic browning of apples. Due to an increase in consumer demand for pre-prepared fruits and vegetables, a solution for enzymatic browning has been a targeted area of research and new product development. As an example, pre-sliced apples are an appealing consumer product, but slicing apples induces PPO activity, leading to browning of the cut surfaces and lowering their esthetic quality. Browning also occurs in apple juices and purees when poorly handled or processed.
Apricot as a climacteric fruit undergoes fast post-harvest maturation. The latent PPO form can spontaneously activate during the first weeks of storage, generating the active enzyme with a molecular weight of 38 kDa.Ascorbic acid/protease combinations constitute a promising practical anti-browning method as treated apricot purees preserved their color.
Found in high concentrations in potato tuber peel and 1–2 mm of the outer cortex tissue, PPO is used in the potato as a defense against insect predation, leading to enzymatic browning from tissue damage. Damage in the skin tissue of potato tuber causes a disruption of cell compartmentation, resulting in browning. The brown or black pigments are produced from the reaction of PPO quinone products with amino acid groups in the tuber. In potatoes, PPO genes are not only expressed in potato tubers, but also in leaves, petioles, flowers and roots.
Hemocyanin is homologous to the phenol oxidases (e.g. tyrosinase) since both enzymes sharing type copper active site coordination. Hemocyanin also exhibits PPO activity, but with slowed kinetics from greater steric bulk at the active site. Partial denaturation actually improves hemocyanin’s PPO activity by providing greater access to the active site.
Aureusidin synthase is homologous to plant polyphenol oxidase, but contains certain significant modifications.
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