Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 19, pp 8187–8202 | Cite as

Thermostable alpha-glucan phosphorylases: characteristics and industrial applications

  • Zorica Ubiparip
  • Koen Beerens
  • Jorick Franceus
  • Ronny Vercauteren
  • Tom DesmetEmail author


α-Glucan phosphorylases (α-GPs) catalyze the reversible phosphorolysis of α-1,4-linked polysaccharides such as glycogen, starch, and maltodextrins, therefore playing a central role in the usage of storage polysaccharides. The discovery of these enzymes and their role in the course of catalytic conversion of glycogen was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1947. Nowadays, however, thermostable representatives attract special attention due to their vast potential in the enzymatic production of diverse carbohydrates and derivatives such as (functional) oligo- and (non-natural) polysaccharides, artificial starch, glycosides, and nucleotide sugars. One of the most recently explored utilizations of α-GPs is their role in the multi-enzymatic process of energy production stored in carbohydrate biobatteries. Regardless of their use, thermostable α-GPs offer significant advantages and facilitated bioprocess design due to their high operational temperatures. Here, we present an overview and comparison of up-to-date characterized thermostable α-GPs with a special focus on their reported biotechnological applications.


α-Glucan phosphorylase Thermostability Thermozymes α-d-glucose 1-phosphate Biocatalysis 



This study was supported by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship agency (former Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology) (grant number WTO/150852).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Synthetic Biology (CSB), Department of BiotechnologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Cargill R&D Centre Europe BVBAVilvoordeBelgium

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