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Researchers Identify Key Enzymes behind Body Odor

Oct, 2020

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According to the researchers, this key enzyme responsible for body odor opens up new possibilities for long-lasting antiperspirants and deodorants.

Body odor is the perceived unpleasant odor that the body can give when the bacteria in the armpits sweat out the acid. Armpit bacteria have long been known as smelly culprits, and now, the research team from the University of York has discovered a key enzyme responsible for bad body odor. Moreover, the researchers found that BO is much older than humans. The team has found a unique enzyme, named C-T lyase (cysteine-thiol lyase) that is responsible for the pungent characteristic smell known as body odor (BO).

Previously, the same research team showed that only a few bacteria in the armpits are the real culprits behind body odor. The new research sheds light on how specific bacteria have developed a particular enzyme to produce some key molecules known as body odor. The research was published in the Scientific Reports journal. The culprit is C-T lyase (a key enzyme), found in the bacterium S. hominis, which resides in the human armpit. The same research team has isolated the culprit to a particular enzyme within these bacteria.

The researchers found that staphylococcus hominis uses the C-T lyase to break certain molecules into thioalcohols, the smelliest components of BO. These microbes started stinking when the researchers inserted this enzyme into other bacteria species, which does not normally cause odor. According to the researchers, this key enzyme responsible for body odor opens up new possibilities for long-lasting antiperspirants and deodorants. Using structural biology and biochemistry, the researchers dated the presence of the C-T lyase in staphylococcus hominis and found that it could be around 60 million years old. According to the co-first author, Michelle Rudden, the C-T lyase allowed them to pinpoint the molecular steps inside some bacteria that make odor molecules.

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