Wheat gluten: high molecular weight glutenin subunits--structure, genetics, and relation to dough elasticity

J Food Sci. 2007 Apr;72(3):R56-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00292.x.


Gluten proteins, representing the major protein fraction of the starchy endosperm, are predominantly responsible for the unique position of wheat amongst cereals. These form a continuous proteinaceous matrix in the cells of the mature dry grain and form a continuous viscoelastic network during the mixing process of dough development. These viscoelastic properties underline the utilization of wheat to prepare bread and other wheat flour based foodstuffs. One group of gluten proteins is glutenin, which consists of high molecular weight (HMW) and low molecular weight (LMW) subunits. The HMW glutenin subunits (HMW-GS) are particularly important for determining dough elasticity. The common wheat possesses 3 to 5 HMW subunits encoded at the Glu-1 loci on the long arms of group 1 chromosomes (1A, 1B, and 1D). The presence of certain HMW subunits is positively correlated with good bread-making quality. Glutamine-rich repetitive sequences that comprise the central part of the HMW subunits are actually responsible for the elastic properties due to extensive arrays of interchain hydrogen bonds. Genetic engineering can be used to manipulate the amount and composition of the HMW subunits, leading to either increased dough strength or more drastic changes in gluten structure and properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bread / standards*
  • Elasticity
  • Glutens / chemistry*
  • Glutens / genetics
  • Molecular Weight
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid
  • Rheology*
  • Triticum / chemistry*
  • Triticum / genetics*


  • Glutens
  • glutenin