Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles (MALB) and 7-spot Lady Beetles that infect vineyards can secrete alkyl-methoxypyrazines when they are processed with the grapes, resulting in wines containing a taint. The main methoxypyrazine associated with this taint is 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IPMP). The wines are described as having aroma and flavours of peanut butter, peanut shells, asparagus and earthy which collectively, have become known as “ladybug taint”. To date, there are no known fining agents used commercially added to juice or wine that are effective in removing this taint.
The goal of this project was to use previously identified proteins with an ability to bind to methoxypyrazines at low pH, and subsequently develop a binding assay to test the ability of these proteins to bind to and remove methoxypyrazines from grape juice. The piglet odorant binding protein (plOBP) and mouse major urinary protein (mMUP) were identified, cloned and expressed in the Pichia pastoris expression system. Protein expression was induced using methanol and the proteins were subsequently purified from the induction media using anion exchange chromatography. The purified proteins were freeze-dried and rehydrated prior to use in the methoxypyrazine removal assay. The expression and purification system resulted in yields of approximately 78% of purified plOBP and 62% of purified mMUP from expression to rehydration. Purified protein values were 87 mg of purified plOPB per litre of induction media and 19 mg of purified mMUP per litre of induction medium. In order to test the ability of the protein to bind to the MPs, an MP removal assay was developed. In the assay, the purified protein is incubated with either IPMP or 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IBMP) for two hours in either buffer or grape juice. Bentonite is then used to capture the protein-MP complex and the bentonite-protein-MP complex is then removed from solution by filtration. Residual MP is measured in solution following the MP removal assay and compared to that in the starting solution by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). GC/MS results indicated that the mMUP was capable of removing IBMP and IPMP from 300 ng/L in buffer pH 4.0, buffer pH 3.5 and Riesling Juice pH 3.5 down to the limit of quantification of the instrument, which is 6ng/L and 2ng/L for IBMP and IPMP, respectively. The results for the plOBP showed that although it could remove some IBMP, it was only approximately 50-70 ng/L more than bentonite treatment followed by filtration, resulting in approximately 100 ng/L of the MPs being left in solution. pIOBP was not able to remove IPMP in buffer pH 3.5 using this system above that removed by bentonite alone. As well, the pIOBP was not able to remove any additional MPs from Chardonnay juice pH 3.5 above that already removed by the bentonite and filtration alone. The mouse MUP was shown to be a better candidate protein for removal of MPs from juice using this system.
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