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J Biosci. 2010 Mar;35(1):127-60.

Lysozymes in the animal kingdom.

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  • 1Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Center, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 22, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium,


Lysozymes (EC are hydrolytic enzymes, characterized by their ability to cleave the beta-(1,4)-glycosidic bond between N-acetylmuramic acid and N-acetylglucosamine in peptidoglycan, the major bacterial cell wall polymer. In the animal kingdom, three major distinct lysozyme types have been identified--the c-type (chicken or conventional type), the g-type (goose-type) and the i-type (invertebrate type) lysozyme. Examination of the phylogenetic distribution of these lysozymes reveals that c-type lysozymes are predominantly present in the phylum of the Chordata and in different classes of the Arthropoda. Moreover, g-type lysozymes (or at least their corresponding genes) are found in members of the Chordata, as well as in some bivalve mollusks belonging to the invertebrates. In general, the latter animals are known to produce i-type lysozymes. Although the homology in primary structure for representatives of these three lysozyme types is limited, their three-dimensional structures show striking similarities. Nevertheless, some variation exists in their catalytic mechanisms and the genomic organization of their genes. Regarding their biological role, the widely recognized function of lysozymes is their contribution to antibacterial defence but, additionally, some lysozymes (belonging to different types) are known to function as digestive enzymes.

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