Expression of the sweet protein brazzein in maize for production of a new commercial sweetener

Plant Biotechnol J. 2005 Jan;3(1):103-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2004.00105.x.


The availability of foods low in sugar content yet high in flavour is critically important to millions of individuals conscious of carbohydrate intake for diabetic or dietetic purposes. Brazzein is a sweet protein occurring naturally in a tropical plant that is impractical to produce economically on a large scale, thus limiting its availability for food products. We report here the use of a maize expression system for the production of this naturally sweet protein. High expression of brazzein was obtained, with accumulation of up to 4% total soluble protein in maize seed. Purified corn brazzein possessed a sweetness intensity of up to 1200 times that of sucrose on a per weight basis. In addition, application tests demonstrated that brazzein-containing maize germ flour could be used directly in food applications, providing product sweetness. These results demonstrate that high-intensity sweet protein engineered into food products can give sweetener attributes useful in the food industry.