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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2003 Jul;62(1):21-6. Epub 2003 May 1.

epsilon-Poly-L-lysine: microbial production, biodegradation and application potential.

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Department of Biomolecular Science, Gifu University, Yanagido 1-1, 501-1193 Gifu, Japan.


epsilon-Poly-L-lysine (epsilon-PL) is a homo-poly-amino acid characterized by the peptide bond between the carboxyl and epsilon-amino groups of L-lysine. epsilon-PL shows a wide range of antimicrobial activity and is stable at high temperatures and under both acidic and alkaline conditions. The mechanism of the inhibitory effect of epsilon-PL on microbial growth is the electrostatic adsorption to the cell surface of microorganisms on the basis of its poly-cationic property. Due to this antimicrobial activity, epsilon-PL is now industrially produced in Japan as a food additive by a fermentation process using Streptomyces albulus. In spite of the practical application of epsilon-PL, the biosynthetic mechanisms of epsilon-PL have not been clarified at all. epsilon-PL producers commonly possess membrane-bound epsilon-PL-degrading aminopeptidase, which might play a role in self-protection.

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