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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2002;56:403-32. Epub 2002 Jan 30.

Microbial degradation of polyhydroxyalkanoates.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie, Allmandring 31, D-70550 Stuttgart, Germany.


Polyesters such as poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) or other polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) have attracted commercial and academic interest as new biodegradable materials. The ability to degrade PHA is widely distributed among bacteria and fungi and depends on the secretion of specific extracellular PHA depolymerases (e-PHA depolymerases), which are carboxyesterases (EC and EC, and on the physical state of the polymer (amorphous or crystalline). This contribution provides a summary of the biochemical and molecular biological characteristics of e-PHA depolymerases and focuses on the intracellular mobilization of storage PHA by intracellular PHA depolymerases (i-PHA depolymerases) of PHA-accumulating bacteria. The importance of different assay systems for PHA depolymerase activity is also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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