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Open Access Research article

A study on trypsin, Aspergillus flavus and Bacillus sp. protease inhibitory activity in Cassia tora (L.) syn Senna tora (L.) Roxb. seed extract

Vinayak R Tripathi, Shailendra Kumar and Satyendra K Garg*

Author Affiliations

Centre of Excellence in Microbiology, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Faizabad-224001, Uttar Pradesh, India

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:56  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-56

Published: 12 July 2011



Proteases play an important role in virulence of many human, plant and insect pathogens. The proteinaceous protease inhibitors of plant origin have been reported widely from many plant species. The inhibitors may potentially be used for multiple therapeutic applications in viral, bacterial, fungal diseases and physiological disorders. In traditional Indian medicine system, Cassia tora (Senna tora) is reportedly effective in treatment of skin and gastrointestinal disorders. The present study explores the protease inhibitory activity of the above plant seeds against trypsin, Aspergillus flavus and Bacillus sp. proteases.


The crushed seeds of Cassia tora were washed thoroughly with acetone and hexane for depigmentation and defatting. The proteins were fractionated by ammonium sulphate (0-30, 30-60, 60-90%) followed by dialysis and size exclusion chromatography (SEC). The inhibitory potential of crude seed extract and most active dialyzed fraction against trypsin and proteases was established by spot test using unprocessed x-ray film and casein digestion methods, respectively. Electrophoretic analysis of most active fraction (30-60%) and SEC elutes were carried employing Sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Gelatin SDS-PAGE. Inhibition of fungal spore germination was studied in the presence of dialyzed active inhibitor fraction. Standard deviation (SD) and ANOVA were employed as statistical tools.


The crude seeds' extract displayed strong antitryptic, bacterial and fungal protease inhibitory activity on x-ray film. The seed protein fraction 30-60% was found most active for trypsin inhibition in caseinolytic assay (P < 0.001). The inhibition of caseinolytic activity of the proteases increased with increasing ratio of seed extract. The residual activity of trypsin, Aspergillus flavus and Bacillus sp. proteases remained only 4, 7 and 3.1%, respectively when proteases were incubated with 3 mg ml-1 seed protein extract for 60 min. The inhibitory activity was evident in gelatin SDS-PAGE where a major band (~17-19 kD) of protease inhibitor (PI) was detected in dialyzed and SEC elute. The conidial germination of Aspergillus flavus was moderately inhibited (30%) by the dialyzed seed extract.


Cassia tora seed extract has strong protease inhibitory activity against trypsin, Aspergillus flavus and Bacillus sp. proteases. The inhibitor in Cassia tora may attenuate microbial proteases and also might be used as phytoprotecting agent.