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Steviol glycosides are the intensely sweet components of extracts from Stevia rebaudiana. These molecules comprise an invariant steviol aglycone decorated with variable glycans and could widely serve as a low-calorie sweetener. However, the most desirable steviol glycosides Reb D and Reb M, devoid of unpleasant aftertaste, are naturally produced only in trace amounts due to low levels of specific β (1-2) glucosylation in Stevia. Here, we report the biochemical and structural characterization of OsUGT91C1, a glycosyltransferase from Oryza sativa, which is efficient at catalyzing β (1-2) glucosylation. The enzyme's ability to bind steviol glycoside substrate in three modes underlies its flexibility to catalyze β (1-2) glucosylation in two distinct orientations as well as β (1-6) glucosylation. Guided by the structural insights, we engineer this enzyme to enhance the desirable β (1-2) glucosylation, eliminate β (1-6) glucosylation, and obtain a promising catalyst for the industrial production of naturally rare but palatable steviol glycosides.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date