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Biotechnol Adv. 2006 Mar-Apr;24(2):212-25. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

Endless versatility in the biotechnological applications of Kluyveromyces LAC genes.

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  • 168-541, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 02139, USA.


Most microorganisms adapted to life in milk owe their ability to thrive in this habitat to the evolution of mechanisms for the use of the most abundant sugar present on it, lactose, as a carbon source. Because of their lactose-assimilating ability, Kluyveromyces yeasts have long been used in industrial processes involved in the elimination of this sugar. The identification of the genes conferring Kluyveromyces with a system for permeabilization and intracellular hydrolysis of lactose (LAC genes), along with the current possibilities for their transfer into alternative organisms through genetic engineering, has significantly broadened the industrial profitability of lactic yeasts. This review provides an updated overview of the general properties of Kluyveromyces LAC genes, and the multiple techniques involving their biotechnological utilization. Emphasis is also made on the potential that some of the latest technologies, such as the generation of transgenics, will have for a further benefit in the use of these and related genes.

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