CAS No. : 9001-06-3
Molecular Formula : C17H16N8Zn
Molecular weight : 397.75254
Chitin, like cellulose, has been thought of as abundant but difficult to digest. It is typically considered unavailable carbohydrate in animal diets, though certain fish can digest chitin to sugar; and dogma suggests that just as ruminants need bacteria to digest cellulose, chitin digestion would also require symbiosis and lengthy fermentations. As such, the discovery of animal, and particular mammalian and human chitinases is somewhat surprising. Actually, human chitinases appear in gastric juices. This is likely to be digestive chitinase, for catabolic activity.
Further, chitinase activity can be detected systemically in humans, in the blood. and possibly cartilage. This is related, as is plant chitinase activity, to inflammation/pathogen resistance.
Chitinase activity can also be detected in human blood and possibly cartilage. As in plant chitinases this may be related to pathogen resistance.
Chitinases are digestive enzymes that break down glycosidic bonds in chitin. Because chitin composes the cell walls of fungi and exoskeletal elements of some animals (including worms and arthropods), chitinases are generally found in organisms that either need to reshape their own chitin or to dissolve and digest the chitin of fungi or animals.
Chitinases have a wealth of applications, some of which have already been realized by industry. This includes bio-conversion of chitin to useful products such as fertilizer, the production of non-allergenic, non-toxic, biocompatible, and biodegradable materials (contact lenses, artificial skin and sutures with these qualities are already being produced) and enhancement of insecticides and fungicides.
Possible future applications of chitinases are as food additives to increase shelf life, therapeutic agent for asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis, as an anti-fungal remedy, an anti-tumor drug and as a general ingredient to be used in protein engineering.
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