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Improving wheat to remove coeliac epitopes but retain functionality

Shewry, Peter R., Tatham, Arthur S.
Journal of cereal science 2016 v.67 pp. 12-21
amino acid sequences, breadmaking, breeding, celiac disease, epitopes, health care workers, ingestion, processed foods, protein composition, wheat, wheat gluten
Coeliac disease is an intolerance triggered by the ingestion of wheat gluten proteins. It is of increasing concern to consumers and health professionals as its incidence appears to be increasing. The amino acid sequences in gluten proteins that are responsible for triggering responses in sensitive individuals have been identified showing that they vary in distribution among and between different groups of gluten proteins. Conventional breeding may therefore be used to select for gluten protein fractions with lower contents of coeliac epitopes. Molecular breeding approaches can also be used to specifically down-regulate coeliac-toxic proteins or mutate coeliac epitopes within individual proteins. A combination of these approaches may therefore be used to develop a “coeliac-safe” wheat. However, this remains a formidable challenge due to the complex multigenic control of gluten protein composition. Furthermore, any modified wheats must retain acceptable properties for making bread and other processed foods. Not surprisingly, such coeliac-safe wheats have not yet been developed despite over a decade of research.