Transglucosidases belonging to the glycoside hydrolase (GH) family 70 are promising enzymatic tools for the synthesis of α-glucans with defined structures from renewable sucrose and starch substrates. Depending on the GH70 enzyme specificity, α-glucans with different structures and physicochemical properties are produced, which have found diverse (potential) commercial applications, e.g. in food, health and as biomaterials. Originally, the GH70 family was established only for glucansucrase enzymes of lactic acid bacteria that catalyze the synthesis of α-glucan polymers from sucrose. In recent years, we have identified 3 novel subfamilies of GH70 enzymes (designated GtfB, GtfC and GtfD), inactive on sucrose but converting starch/maltodextrin substrates into novel α-glucans. These novel starch-acting enzymes considerably enlarge the panel of α-glucans that can be produced. They also represent very interesting evolutionary intermediates between sucrose-acting GH70 glucansucrases and starch-acting GH13 α-amylases. Here we provide an overview of the repertoire of GH70 enzymes currently available with focus on these novel starch-acting GH70 enzymes and their biotechnological potential. Moreover, we discuss key developments in the understanding of structure-function relationships of GH70 enzymes in the light of available three-dimensional structures, and the protein engineering strategies that were recently applied to expand their natural product specificities.
Keywords: GH70; Glucanotransferase; Glucansucrase; Lactic acid bacteria; Structure-function; α-Glucan.
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