Pullulanase: role in starch hydrolysis and potential industrial applications

Enzyme Res. 2012;2012:921362. doi: 10.1155/2012/921362. Epub 2012 Sep 6.


The use of pullulanase (EC has recently been the subject of increased applications in starch-based industries especially those aimed for glucose production. Pullulanase, an important debranching enzyme, has been widely utilised to hydrolyse the α-1,6 glucosidic linkages in starch, amylopectin, pullulan, and related oligosaccharides, which enables a complete and efficient conversion of the branched polysaccharides into small fermentable sugars during saccharification process. The industrial manufacturing of glucose involves two successive enzymatic steps: liquefaction, carried out after gelatinisation by the action of α-amylase; saccharification, which results in further transformation of maltodextrins into glucose. During saccharification process, pullulanase has been used to increase the final glucose concentration with reduced amount of glucoamylase. Therefore, the reversion reaction that involves resynthesis of saccharides from glucose molecules is prevented. To date, five groups of pullulanase enzymes have been reported, that is, (i) pullulanase type I, (ii) amylopullulanase, (iii) neopullulanase, (iv) isopullulanase, and (v) pullulan hydrolase type III. The current paper extensively reviews each category of pullulanase, properties of pullulanase, merits of applying pullulanase during starch bioprocessing, current genetic engineering works related to pullulanase genes, and possible industrial applications of pullulanase.