Chitin Synthesis and Degradation in Fungi: Biology and Enzymes

  • Jinkui Yang
  • Ke-Qin ZhangEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1142)


Chitin is one of the most important carbohydrates of the fungal cell wall, and is synthesized by chitin synthases. Chitin can be degraded by chitinases, which are important virulence factors in pathogenic fungi. Knowledge about the biosynthesis and degradation of chitin, and the enzymes responsible, has accumulated in recent years. In this review, we analyze the amino acid sequences of chitin synthases from several typical fungi. These enzymes can be divided into seven groups. While the different chitin synthases from a single fungus share a low degree of similarity, the same type of chitin synthase from different fungi shows high similarity. The number of chitinase genes in fungi display wide variation, from a single gene in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, to 36 genes in Trichoderma virens. Chitinases from different fungi can be divided into four groups. The functions of chitin synthases and chitinases in several typical fungi are summarized, and the crystal structures of chitinases and chitinase modification are also discussed.


Chitin Chitin synthase Chitinase Crystal structure Modification 



The research described here is jointly supported by the NSFC-Yunnan Joint Fund (U1402265), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (approved nos. 31272093 and 31360019).


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-Resources in Yunnan, and Key Laboratory for Microbial Resources of the Ministry of EducationYunnan UniversityKunming, YunnanChina

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