Biochemical Journal

o-Quinones formed in plant extracts. Their reactions with amino acids and peptides

W. S. Pierpoint

Abstract

1. The reactions of amino acids and peptides with the o-quinones produced by the enzymic oxidation of chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid have been studied manometrically and spectrophotometrically. 2. Amino acids, except lysine and cysteine, react primarily through their α-amino groups to give red or brown products. These reactions, which compete with the polymerization of the quinones, are followed by secondary reactions that may absorb oxygen and give products with other colours. 3. The ∈-amino group of lysine reacts with the o-quinones in a similar way. The thiol group of cysteine reacts with the quinones, without absorbing oxygen, giving colourless products. 4. Peptides containing cysteine react with the o-quinones through their thiol group. 5. Other peptides, such as glycyl-leucine and leucylglycine, react primarily through their α-amino group and the overall reaction resembles that of the N-terminal amino acid except that it is quicker. 6. With some peptides, the secondary reactions differ from those that occur between the o-quinones and the N-terminal amino acids. The colours produced from carnosine resemble those produced from histidine rather than those from β-alanine, and the reactions of prolylalanine with o-quinones are more complex than those of proline.