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Microb Biotechnol. 2012 Nov;5(6):679-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7915.2012.00331.x. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Catabolism and biotechnological applications of cholesterol degrading bacteria.

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Environmental Biology Department, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, C/ Ramiro de Maeztu, 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Cholesterol is a steroid commonly found in nature with a great relevance in biology, medicine and chemistry, playing an essential role as a structural component of animal cell membranes. The ubiquity of cholesterol in the environment has made it a reference biomarker for environmental pollution analysis and a common carbon source for different microorganisms, some of them being important pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This work revises the accumulated biochemical and genetic knowledge on the bacterial pathways that degrade or transform this molecule, given that the characterization of cholesterol metabolism would contribute not only to understand its role in tuberculosis but also to develop new biotechnological processes that use this and other related molecules as starting or target materials.

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