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Bioresour Technol. 2003 Apr;87(2):137-46.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates: an overview.

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Centre for Biochemical Technology (CSIR), Delhi University Campus, Mall Road, Delhi 110 007, India.


Polyhydroxyalkanoates have gained major importance due to their structural diversity and close analogy to plastics. These are gaining more and more importance world over. Different sources (natural isolates, recombinant bacteria, plants) and other methods are being investigated to exert more control over the quality, quantity and economics of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) production. Their biodegradability makes them extremely desirable substitutes for synthetic plastics. The PHB biosynthetic genes phbA, phbB and phbC are clustered and organized in one phbCAB operon. The PHB pathway is highly divergent in the bacterial genera with regard to orientation and clustering of genes involved. Inspite of this the enzymes display a high degree of sequence conservation. But how similar are the mechanisms of regulation of these divergent operons is as yet unknown. Structural studies will further improve our understanding of the mechanism of action of these enzymes and aid us in improving and selecting better candidates for increased production. Metabolic engineering thereafter promises to bring a feasible solution for the production of "green plastic".

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