Alliinase [S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxide lyase], a pyridoxal-phosphate-(Pxy-P)-dependent enzyme, is responsible for the degradative conversion of S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxide to volatile odorous sulfur-containing metabolites in Allium plants. We have purified alliinase from shoots of Allium tuberosum (Chinese chive) to apparent homogeneity by SDS/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. A cDNA clone encoding alliinase was isolated from a cDNA library constructed from whole plants of A. tuberosum by hybridization screening with a synthetic 50-residue oligonucleotide encoding a conserved region of the alliinases from onion and garlic. The isolated cDNA encoded a protein of 476 amino acid residues with a molecular mass of 54083 Da. The deduced amino acid sequence exhibited 66-69% identities with those of reported alliinases from onion, garlic and shallot. The partial amino acid sequence, which was determined for a V8 protease-digested peptide fragment of the purified alliinase, was perfectly matched with the sequence deduced from the cDNA. An expression vector of recombinant alliinase cDNA was constructed in yeast. The catalytically active protein was in the soluble fraction of transformed yeast. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments indicated that Lys280 was essential for the catalytic activity and, thus, a possible Pxy-P-binding residue. The mRNA expression of the alliinase gene comprising a multigene family in the shoots of green plants was twofold higher than that in the roots of green plants; however, the expression in the shoots of etiolated plants was only 13% that in green shoots, although the expression in the roots was not remarkably different between in green and etiolated plants. Immunohistochemical investigation indicated that the alliinase protein is predominantly accumulated in the bundle sheath cells of shoots of A. tuberosum.