Wheat protein is also a major food allergen. Due to its unique amino acid composition, wheat protein has a large hydrophobic region and a high viscosity due to the low solubility caused by its special structure. There are different immune mechanisms that cause allergic reactions to various wheat proteins, such as storage proteins, antioxidant proteins, and soluble proteins. Therefore, the use of hydrolyzed wheat protein in food processing is limited.
In recent years, biocatalysis technology has rapidly developed. Wheat protein can be hydrolyzed by protease enzyme, which can break peptide bonds, increase charge density, change the protein structure, reduce the molecular weight, alter the spatial structure, and generate peptides or smaller amino acid molecules, thereby improving its functionality. In addition, during the enzymatic hydrolysis process, hydrophobic amino acid residues are exposed, which increases the hydrophobicity of the surface and causes the emergence of polar charged groups, enhancing the functional properties of the hydrolyzed wheat protein, such as solubility, foamability, and solubility, expanding the application range of wheat protein. Therefore, selecting the appropriate protease is particularly important in the field of food processing. Common protease enzymes used in industrial production include alkaline protease enzyme, papain, flavor enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, and neutral protease enzymes.
Neutral protease enzyme, also known as Bacillus stearothermophilus protease enzyme, is an endopeptidase with high hydrolysis efficiency and weak hydrolysis activity against acylamide groups. It can hydrolyze wheat gluten to obtain high-quality glutamine peptide products. Through single-enzyme hydrolysis experiments of neutral protease enzyme, the hydrolysis effect is significant, the content of short peptides in the product is high, and the trichloroacetic acid nitrogen solubility index is 77.86%. The effective glutamine content is high, reaching 17.65%. Although the hydrolysis efficiency or effective glutamine content can be further improved through a dual or multiple enzyme hydrolysis system, neutral protease has significant advantages over other non-animal proteases in terms of its high hydrolysis efficiency. Inflammatory effects of other enzymes are not obvious. Therefore, neutral protease is often used in flour relaxation and hydrolysis of wheat protein processing.
China is a major soybean importer, and soybean by-products are used in pig farming, increasing the dependence on soybeans. By hydrolyzing wheat protein with protease enzyme, the solubility of raw materials can be improved. Compared with unhydrolyzed wheat protein raw materials and other animal and plant materials, hydrolyzed wheat protein has unique functional properties, which has promoted its application in the feed industry, and has helped achieve efficient utilization of existing protein resources, reduce the dependence of the pig farming industry on imported soybean meal, and promote the sustainable development of pig farming.
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