Structuring Sweetness: What Makes Stevia 200 Times Sweeter than Sugar?


The major ingredient in the product Stevia, rebaudioside A (called “RebA”), has been published, enabling a determination of the three-dimensional structure of its proteins. Along with the mostly known genes and proteins in the biochemical pathway, there is potential for manufacturing noncaloric products without the aftertaste some associate with the intensely sweet Stevia. Researchers used X-ray crystallography capabilities at the Advanced Photon Source’s Structural Biology Center at Argonne National Laboratory to determine RebA’s structure and how the key plant enzyme builds high-intensity sweetness.

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Lee, S. G., et al. 2019. “Molecular Basis for Branched Steviol Glucoside Biosynthesis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 116(26), 13131–36. [DOI:10.1073/pnas.1902104116]