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International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Volume 154, 2020, Pages 567-583

Comprehensive insights into microbial keratinases and their implication in various biotechnological and industrial sectors: A review

Mohamed A.Hassana, Deyaa Abol-Fotouhb, Ahmed M.Omerc, Tamer M.Tamerc, EmanAbbasd

Protein Research Department, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Research Institute (GEBRI), City of Scientific Research and Technological Applications (SRTA-City), New Borg El-Arab City, P.O. Box: 21934, Alexandria, Egypt.


Enormous masses of keratinous wastes are annually accumulated in the environment as byproducts of poultry processing and agricultural wastes. Keratin is a recalcitrant fibrous protein, which represents the major constituent of various keratin-rich wastes, which released into the environment in the form of feathers, hair, wool, bristle, and hooves. Chemical treatment methods of these wastes resulted in developing many hazardous gases and toxins to the public health, in addition to the destruction of several amino acids. Accordingly, microbial keratinases have been drawing much interest as an eco-friendly approach to convert keratinous wastes into valuable products. Numerous keratinolytic microorganisms have been identified, which revealed the competence to hydrolyze keratins into peptides and amino acids. Several types of keratinolytic proteases have been produced that possess diverse biochemical characteristics, conferring them the versatility for implementing in multifarious applications such as detergents, leather and textile industries, animal feeding, and production of bio-fertilizers, in addition to medical and pharmaceutical treatments. This review article emphasizes the significance of keratinases and keratinase based-products via comprehensive insights into the keratin structure, diversity of keratinolytic microorganisms, and mechanisms of keratin hydrolysis. Furthermore, we discuss the biochemical properties of the produced keratinases and their feasible applications in diverse disciplines.

Keywords: Keratinous wastes, Microbial keratinase, Keratin biodegradation and commercial keratinases, Feather and hair hydrolysates, Application of keratinases.

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