By Ian W. Sutherland

This quantity offers a radical account of the constitution and synthesis of microbial exopolysaccharides and in their common software throughout a large diversity of industries, together with nutrition, oil and drugs. The winning exploitation of those polysaccharides calls for a legitimate medical figuring out in their chemical and actual houses and in addition their biochemistry and biosynthesis.

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A . . However, in the K5 exopolysaccharide, the D-glucosyl bond is 1,3; in K64 the linkages are 1,4 and a- respectively. The xanthan lyase already mentioned is also a mannolyase but fails to act on either of the Klebsiella aerogenes polysaccharides. The two phage mannolyases are endoenzymes, causing rapid loss in the viscosity of the substrate polysaccharide solutions. As the xanthan lyase attacks side-chains, it is effectively an exomannolyase. A further exolyase of this type has been found which acts on gellan.

Elucidation of the initial stages of polysaccharide synthesis has proved more difficult than was the case for polymers found in microbial and particularly bacterial walls. This has been mainly because of the lack of suitable selection systems for obtaining mutants and of antimicrobial agents specifically inhibiting polysaccharide biosynthesis. Even the preparation of cell-free systems or of membrane fragments is rendered more difficult by the presence of the viscous extracellular polysaccharides.

By analogy with the action of /3-amylase on amylopectin (or glycogen), the isomaltose-producing dextranase leaves a macromolecular product from which the outer branches have been removed. Streptococcus mutans strains which form the 1,3-a-linked dextran mutan almost all produce dextranases. These enzymes are endodextranases, which initially yield isomaltose, isomaltotetraose and isomaltopentaose as the major digestion products. Subsequently, the largest of these oligosaccharides is slowly hydrolysed to glucose, isomaltose and isomaltotriose.

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