Isomerases are enzymes that induce physical changes in a molecule without affecting the original molecular formula. Among this class of enzymes, xylose isomerases (XIs) are the most studied to date, partly due to their extensive application in industrial processes to produce high-fructose corn sirups. In recent years, the need for sustainable initiatives has triggered efforts to improve the biobased economy through the use of renewable raw materials. In this context, D-xylose usage is crucial as it is the second-most abundant sugar in nature. The application of XIs in biotransforming xylose, enabling downstream metabolism in several microorganisms, is a smart strategy for ensuring a low-carbon footprint and producing several value-added biochemicals with broad industrial applications such as in the food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and polymer industries. Considering recent advancements that have expanded the range of applications of XIs, this review provides a comprehensive and concise overview of XIs, from their primary sources to the biochemical and structural features that influence their mechanisms of action. This comprehensive review may help address the challenges involved in XI applications in different industries and facilitate the exploitation of xylose bioprocesses.
Keywords: Xylose isomerase; biorefinery; biotechnology; enzyme; isomerase; lignocellulosic biomass; xylose.