Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp 1167–1178

Animal cellulases

  • H. Watanabe
  • G. Tokuda

DOI: 10.1007/PL00000931

Cite this article as:
Watanabe, H. & Tokuda, G. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2001) 58: 1167. doi:10.1007/PL00000931


Previous dogma has maintained that cellulose, ingested by xylophagous or herbivorous animals, is digested by cellulolytic symbiotes. The first evidence in conflict with this contention involved the demonstration of cellulolytic activities in symbiote-free secreting organs (e.g., the salivary glands of termites) or defaunated guts. Following these demonstrations, possible endogenous cellulase components were purified from several cellulose-digesting invertebrates, but this research did little to change the general view concerning animal cellulose digestion. Thanks to recent developments in molecular biology, the existence of cellulases of animal origin has been firmly established. To date, cellulase genes have been reported from arthropods (insects and a crayfish) and nematodes. This paper describes and discusses the presence and nature of endogenous cellulases in higher animals.

Key words. Endo-β-1,4-glucanase; glycoside hydrolase; invertebrate; gene; purification; symbiosis; endogenous.

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Watanabe
    • 1
  • G. Tokuda
    • 2
  1. 1.National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634 (Japan), Fax + 81 298 38 6028, e-mail: hinabe@affrc.go.jp JP
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara-cho, Okinawa 903-0213 (Japan)JP