Sulfhydryl oxidases are flavin-dependent enzymes that catalyse the formation of de novo disulfide bonds from free thiol groups, with the reduction of molecular oxygen to hydrogen peroxide. Sulfhydryl oxidases have been investigated in the food industry to remove the burnt flavour of ultraheat-treated milk and are currently studied as potential crosslinking enzymes, aiming at strengthening wheat dough and improving the overall bread quality.
In the present study, potential sulfhydryl oxidases were identified in the publicly available fungal genome sequences and their sequence characteristics were studied. A representative sulfhydryl oxidase from Aspergillus oryzae, AoSOX1, was expressed in the fungus Trichoderma reesei. AoSOX1 was produced in relatively good yields and was purified and biochemically characterised. The enzyme catalysed the oxidation of thiol-containing compounds like glutathione, D/L-cysteine, beta-mercaptoethanol and DTT. The enzyme had a melting temperature of 57°C, a pH optimum of 7.5 and its enzymatic activity was completely inhibited in the presence of 1 mM ZnSO4.
Eighteen potentially secreted sulfhydryl oxidases were detected in the publicly available fungal genomes analysed and a novel proline-tryptophan dipeptide in the characteristic motif CXXC, where X is any amino acid, was found. A representative protein, AoSOX1 from A. oryzae, was produced in T. reesei in an active form and had the characteristics of sulfhydryl oxidases. Further testing of the activity on thiol groups within larger peptides and on protein level will be needed to assess the application potential of this enzyme.