Microbial beta-glucosidases: cloning, properties, and applications

Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2002;22(4):375-407. doi: 10.1080/07388550290789568.


Beta-glucosidases constitute a major group among glycosylhydrolase enzymes. Out of the 82 families classified under glycosylhydrolase category, these belong to family 1 and family 3 and catalyze the selective cleavage of glucosidic bonds. This function is pivotal in many crucial biological pathways, such as degradation of structural and storage polysaccharides, cellular signaling, oncogenesis, host-pathogen interactions, as well as in a number of biotechnological applications. In recent years, interest in these enzymes has gained momentum owing to their biosynthetic abilities. The enzymes exhibit utility in syntheses of diverse oligosaccharides, glycoconjugates, alkyl- and aminoglucosides. Attempts are being made to understand the structure-function relationship of these versatile biocatalysts. Earlier reviews described the sources and properties of microbial beta-glucosidases, yeast beta-glucosidases, thermostable fungal beta-glucosidase, and the physiological functions, characteristics, and catalytic action of native beta-glucosidases from various plant, animal, and microbial sources. Recent efforts have been directed towards molecular cloning, sequencing, mutagenesis, and crystallography of the enzymes. The aim of the present article is to describe the sources and properties of recombinant beta-glucosidases, their classification schemes based on similarity at the structural and molecular levels, elucidation of structure-function relationships, directed evolution of existing enzymes toward enhanced thermostability, substrate range, biosynthetic properties, and applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Hydrolysis
  • Industrial Microbiology / methods*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / classification
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity
  • beta-Glucosidase / chemistry*
  • beta-Glucosidase / classification
  • beta-Glucosidase / genetics*
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • beta-Glucosidase