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Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Vol. 100 (13), 2016, Pages: 5661–5679

Characteristics, protein engineering and applications of microbial thermostable pullulanases and pullulan hydrolases

M. NishaT. Satyanarayana

Department of Microbiology, University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi, India.


Pullulan hydrolyzing enzymes are endoacting, classified based on the substrate specificity and hydrolysis products as pullulanases (type I and II) and pullulan hydrolases (type I, II and III). Pullulanases and pullulan hydrolase type I are produced by bacteria and archaea. Among bacteria, many mesophilic, thermophilic and hyperthermophilic bacteria produce pullulanases and neopullulanases. While pullulan hydrolase type II and type III are produced by fungi and archaea, respectively. These are multi-domain proteins with three conserved catalytic acidic residues of the glycosyl hydrolases. The recent advances in molecular biology and protein engineering via mutagenesis and truncation led to improvement in thermostability, catalytic activity and substrate specificity. Pullulanases are debranching enzymes, which are widely employed in starch saccharification that minimizes the use of glucoamylase (approx. 50 %) and reduces the total reaction time of the industrial starch conversion process. The thermostable amylopullulanases are useful in one-step starch liquefaction and saccharification, which replaces amylolytic enzymes like α-amylase and glucoamylase, thus resulting in the reduction in the cost of sugar production. The enzymes also find application in making resistant starches and as an antistale in bread making. Panose and isopanose containing syrups are useful as prebiotics, while panose has also been reported to display anticarcinogenic activity. This review focuses on the distinguishing features of these enzymes based on the analysis of amino acid sequences and domain structure, besides highlighting recent advances in the molecular biology and protein engineering for enhancing their thermostability, catalytic activity and substrate specificity. This review also briefly summarizes the potential applications of pullulanases and pullulan hydrolases.

Keywords: Pullulanase, Pullulan hydrolase, Maltotriose, PanoseIsopanose, Starch saccharification.

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