Cloning and sequence analysis of a cDNA encoding a Brazil nut protein exceptionally rich in methionine
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- Altenbach, S.B., Pearson, K.W., Leung, F.W. et al. Plant Mol Biol (1987) 8: 239. doi:10.1007/BF00015032
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The primary amino acid sequence of an abundant methionine-rich seed protein found in Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa H.B.K.) has been elucidated by protein sequencing and from the nucleotide sequence of cDNA clones. The 9 kDa subunit of this protein was found to contain 77 amino acids of which 14 were methionine (18%) and 6 were cysteine (8%). Over half of the methionine residues in this subunit are clustered in two regions of the polypeptide where they are interspersed with arginine residues. In one of these regions, methionine residues account for 5 out of 6 amino acids and four of these methionine residues are contiguous. The sequence data verifies that the Brazil nut sulfur-rich protein is synthesized as a precursor polypeptide that is considerably larger than either of the two subunits of the mature protein. Three proteolytic processing steps by which the encoded polypeptide is sequentially trimmed to the 9 kDa and 3 kDa subunit polypeptides have been correlated with the sequence information. In addition, we have found that the sulfur-rich protein from Brazil nut is homologous in its amino acid sequence to small water-soluble proteins found in two other oilseeds, castor bean (Ricinus communis) and rapeseed (Brassica napus). When the amino acid sequences of these three proteins are aligned to maximize homology, the arrangement of cysteine residues is conserved. However, the two subunits of the Brazil nut protein contain over 19% methionine whereas the homologous proteins from castor bean and rapeseed contain only 2.1% and 2.6% methionine, respectively.