Lunasin in wheat: A chemical and molecular study on its presence or absence

Giovanni Dinelli, Valeria Bregola, Sara Bosi, Jessica Fiori, Roberto Gotti, Emanuela Simonetti, Caterina Trozzi, Emanuela Leoncini, Cecilia Prata, Luca Massaccesi, Marco Malaguti, Robert Quinn and Silvana Hrelia

Wheat PictureGiovanni Dinelli and colleagues from Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna (IT), Bioaesis (IT) and Kamut International (USA) have confirmed there is no lunasin, nor any lunasin-like compound(s) with similar molecular weight(s), present in various wheat genotypes.

Lunasin is a peptide with widely reported anticancer properties; identifying its presence in cereals is important because of the potential for health claims that could be attached to cereal-based foods.

Lunasin was originally isolated from soybean seeds, but has also been reported to be in cereal (wheat, rye, barley and Triticale), Solanum and amaranthus seeds. However, when transcript and DNA sequences in wheat and other cereals were searched, no sequences similar to those encoding the lunasin peptide in soy were found.
In order to determine the presence or absence of lunasin in wheat varieties, Dinelli et al. conducted a broad investigation, based on liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC–ESI-MS) and molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses. These results suggest health benefits associated with wheat and other cereals cannot be ascribed to lunasin or lunasin-like proteins.

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Highlights:

  1. Neither lunasin nor any lunasin-like compound(s) with similar molecular weight(s) are present in the wheat genotypes tested
  2. LC-ESI-MS analysis suggests that lunasin is not a wheat peptide
  3. In the 12 varieties of wheat that were tested, transcript and DNA sequences for lunasin and lunsain-like compounds were found to be absent in all varieties, indicating a high degree of validity