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Abstract

Poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) is a naturally occurring biopolymer made up of repeating units of -glutamic acid, -glutamic acid or both. γ-PGA can exhibit different properties (conformational states, enantiomeric properties and molecular mass). Owing to its biodegradable, non-toxic and non-immunogenic properties, it has been used successfully in the food, medical and wastewater industries. Amongst other novel applications, it has the potential to be used for protein crystallization, as a soft tissue adhesive and a non-viral vector for safe gene delivery. This review focuses on the production, properties and applications of γ-PGA. Each application of γ-PGA utilizes specific properties attributed to various forms of γ-PGA. As a result of its growing applications, more strains of bacteria need to be investigated for γ-PGA production to obtain high yields of γ-PGA with different properties. Many medical applications (especially drug delivery) have exploited α-PGA. As γ-PGA is essentially different from α-PGA (i.e. it does not involve a chemical modification step and is not susceptible to proteases), it could be better utilized for such medical applications. Optimization of γ-PGA with respect to cost of production, molecular mass and conformational/enantiomeric properties is a major step in making its application practical. Analyses of γ-PGA production and knowledge of the enzymes and genes involved in γ-PGA production will not only help increase productivity whilst reducing the cost of production, but also help to understand the mechanism by which γ-PGA is effective in numerous applications.

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2015-01-01
2020-04-07
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