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2004.08.28

酸っぱいものを甘く変える

僕は酸っぱいものは大好きですが甘いものは少し苦手です。はい、大酒飲みといわれます(笑)

毎日新聞より「クルクリゴ:酸っぱいものを甘く…不思議な果物−−名古屋市立大と味の素が共同開発

 酸っぱいものを甘く感じさせる不思議な果物、クルクリゴの成分である、たんぱく質「クルクリン」の構造を解明し、人工的に生産することに、名古屋市立大と味の素などの共同研究グループが初めて成功した。糖尿病患者やダイエットにも適した低カロリーの新しい「甘味料」になりそう。27日付の欧州生化学連合速報誌で発表する。

クルクリンってなんて可愛い名前でしょうか(笑)

クルクリゴはマレーシア原産の果物です。ゴムの木の下に生えるクルクリゴの実にはクルクリンといわれる分子量1万2000のタンパク質が含まれていて、このタンパク質が甘みを感じさせます。

舌の表面には味物質を感じる味蕾があり、ここに味物質が付着する時発生する電気刺激が脳に伝わると「甘い」「酸っぱい」「苦い」などの味覚になります。このクルクリンは散位を感じさせる味蕾に結合し、酸味を甘みに変えてしまいます。

このような物質はほかにも西アジア原産のミラクルフルーツに含まれるミラクリンなどがありますがミラクリンが酸味のみを甘くするのに対しクルクリンは水を飲むだけでも甘みを感じさせます。

同大大学院薬学研究科の加藤晃一教授(構造生物学)らは従来クルクリンを作り出すとされてきた遺伝子を使っても、クルクリンが生産できないことに注目。よく似た別の遺伝子を発見し、二つの遺伝子が作る物質「クルクリン1」「クルクリン2」がペアになることで初めて、酸味を甘く感じる作用が生まれるという複雑な仕組みを解明した。さらに、二つの遺伝子を使い、実際に味覚を変える物質を生産することにも成功した。

この物質を含んだものを食べても、酸っぱいものを甘く感じさせるだけなので肥満や糖尿病のときの甘味料として有効なのではないでしょうか。

 実験中、たまたま手についた液体をなめて物質の合成に成功していることを発見し、論文の筆頭筆者になった大学院生、鈴木麻衣子さん(22)は「まさか成功したとは思っていなかったので、一層甘く感じました」とうれしそう。

でもむやみやたらに実験中に手についた液体をなめるのはやめたほうがいいと思うんですけど(笑)

<参考>名古屋市立大味の素

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» 酸っぱいものを甘く変える−Part2 [大学への基礎数学-雑記帳]
先日「酸っぱいものを甘く変える」という記事でクルクリゴという果実に含まれるクルク [Read More]

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