Breadmaking is one of humankind's oldest technologies, being established some 4,000 years ago. The ability to make leavened bread depends largely on the visco-elastic properties conferred to wheat doughs by the gluten proteins. These allow the entrapment of carbon dioxide released by the yeast, giving rise to a light porous structure. One group of gluten proteins, the high molecular weight (HMW) subunits, are largely responsible for gluten elasticity, and variation in their amount and composition is associated with differences in elasticity (and hence quality) between various types of wheat. These proteins form elastomeric polymers stabilized by inter-chain disulphide bonds, and detailed studies of their structures have led to models for die mechanism of elasticity. This work has also provided a basis for direct improvement of wheat quality by transformation with additional HMW subunit genes.
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Shewry, P., Tatham, A., Barro, F. et al. Biotechnology of Breadmaking: Unraveling and Manipulating the Multi-Protein Gluten Complex. Nat Biotechnol 13, 1185–1190 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1195-1185
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