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J Biosci Bioeng. 1999;87(2):123-36.

Enzymatic and genetic bases on assimilation, depolymerization, and transport of heteropolysaccharides in bacteria.

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Research Institute for Food Science, Kyoto University, Uji 611-0011, Japan.


When microorganisms utilize macromolecules for their growth, they commonly produce extracellular depolymerization enzymes and then incorporate the depolymerized low-molecular-weight products. Assimilation of heteropolysaccharides (gellan and xanthan) by Bacillus sp. GL1 depends on this generally accepted mechanism. On the other hand, Sphingomonas sp. A1 represents an unexplored specific and interesting system for macromolecule assimilation. In the presence of heteropolysaccharide (alginate), the bacterium forms a mouthlike pit on its cell surface and directly incorporates the macromolecule using a novel ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABC transporter). In this review, we discuss enzymatic and genetic bases on the depolymerization and assimilation routes of heteropolysaccharides in bacteria, with particular emphasis on the novel incorporation system for macromolecules, characteristic post-translational modification processes of polysaccharide lyases and on the mouthlike pit structure on the bacterial cell surface.


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