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


For the first time, the major ingredient in the product Stevia has been published, revealing the three-dimensional structure of the proteins that make its major ingredient, rebaudioside A (called “RebA”). 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 as the Advanced Photon Source’s Structural Biology Center at Argonne National Laboratory to determine RebA’s structure and how the key plant enzyme builds the high-intensity sweetness.

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]