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Features and applications of microbial sugar epimerases


Sugar (carbohydrate) epimerases catalyze the reversible conversion of a sugar epimer into its counterpart form. More than 20 types of sugar epimerase have been reported to date, and their biological properties, catalytic mechanisms, and 3D structures are very diverse among them. Recently, microbial sugar epimerases have been characterized in detail. This review surveys the catalytic aspects of microbial epimerases, which are relevant for production of bioactive mono- and oligosaccharides.

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Part of our studies that appeared in this review was done at the Institute of Creative Research Initiative (CRIS) of Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, and supported by the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.

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Correspondence to Susumu Ito.

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According to the definition by the International Society of Rare Sugars (Granström et al. 2004), “rare sugar” is the term restricted to a “mono-saccharide” that exists in nature but are only present in limited quantities. In this review, “sugars” simply mean carbohydrates, mono- and oligosaccharides, or their derivatives.

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Ito, S. Features and applications of microbial sugar epimerases. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 84, 1053–1060 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-009-2179-1

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  • Epimerase
  • Carbohydrate
  • Rare sugar
  • Application
  • Prebiotics