Characterization of beta-glucosidases with high specificity for the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin in Sorghum bicolor (L.) moench seedlings

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1987 Jan;252(1):152-62. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(87)90019-1.


Two beta-glucosidases exhibiting high specificity for the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin have been purified to near homogeneity from seedlings of Sorghum bicolor. Dhurrinase 1 was isolated from shoots of seedlings grown in the dark. Dhurrinase 2 was isolated from the green shoots of young seedlings grown in the light. The two enzymes were similar in following characteristics: their optimum activity is around pH 6.2; the enzymes are stable above pH 7; they are effectively inhibited by the beta-glycosidase inhibitors nojirimycin delta-gluconolactone and 1-amino-beta-D-glucoside. On the other hand, they clearly differed in other properties, e.g., molecular weights, isoelectric points, and substrate specificity. Moreover, dithiothreitol has no effect on dhurrinase 1, but is necessary for the activity of dhurrinase 2. Preliminary investigations indicate that the two enzymes are located in different parts of the sorghum seedlings: dhurrinase 1 is found in the coleoptiles and hypocotyls; dhurrinase 2 occurs in the leaves. Dhurrin (p-hydroxy-(S)-mandelonitrile-beta-D-glucoside) and its structural analog without the hydroxyl group, sambunigrin, were the only substrates hydrolyzed at high rate, the Km values with both enzymes being 0.15 and 0.3 mM, respectively. All other cyanogenic glucosides tested, as well as synthetic substrates such as 4-nitrophenyl-beta-D-glucoside, were in general poor substrates, especially for dhurrinase 1, the enzyme isolated from coleoptile and hypocotyl tissue. Dhurrinase 1 appears to exist within the seedlings as a tetramer (Mr - 2-2.4 X 10(5)) which dissociates without loss of activity into a dimeric form (Mr = 1-1.1 X 10(5)) upon extraction and purification. There is only one monomeric subunit with Mr = 5.7 X 10(4). Isolectric focusing and chromatofocusing of purified dhurrinase 1 showed the presence of at least three isomeric forms, but their relationship to each other is not known at the present time. Dhurrinase 2 appears to be a tetrameric protein with Mr = 2.5-3 X 10(5); it also has only one monomeric subunit of Mr = 6.1 X 10(4). In contrast to many other beta-glucosidases, the dhurrinases are not glycoproteins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dithiothreitol / pharmacology
  • Glucosidases / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Isoelectric Point
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nitriles / metabolism*
  • Plants / enzymology*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution
  • beta-Glucosidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • beta-Glucosidase / isolation & purification
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Nitriles
  • Glucosidases
  • beta-Glucosidase
  • dhurrin
  • Dithiothreitol