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Cellulase is an enzymes produced mainly by fungi , bacteria , and some protozoans via catalyzation of the cellulolysis of cellulose . They are also produced by some plants and animals. There are different kinds of cellulases known, on basis of their diverse structure and composition. EC . is the EC number of this group of enzyme. The alternative names for cellulase include endo-1,4-beta-glucanase, carboxymethyl cellulase (CMCase), endo-1,4-beta-D-glucanase, Beta-1,4-glucanase, Beta-1,4-endoglucan hydrolase and Celludextrinase. There are a few other types which also belong to the category of excocellulases. Hydrolysis reaction is carried out in 1,4-beta-D- glycosidic linkages in cellulose, lichenin and cereal beta-D-glucans.

Cellulase is known to break down complex cellulose to beta- glucose . In this process, cellulase is mainly produced by symbiotic bacteria present in the ruminating digestive chambers of herbivorous animals. Apart from these ruminating animals, this enzyme is not produced in humans. The enzymes which hydrolyze hemicellulose are mainly referred to as hemi-cellulase and are often classified under cellulase. Other than this, enzymes that cleave lignin are also classified as cellulase, but researches do not support this. Enzymes belonging to this group are categorized into progressive and non-progressive types. Progressive cellulase interacts with a single polysaccharide strand where as non-progressive cellulase interacts once, then disengages and again gets engaged with another polysaccharide strand.

Uses And Benefits :

Cellulase finds most common usage in coffee where it carries out hydrolysis of cellulose present in the coffee beans . Cellulase application in the pharmaceutical industry makes them an essential component of many health products. It's employed in the fermentation of biomass into biofuels as well. Medically, Cellulase is used for the treatment of Phytobezoars and the digestion of fiber in fruits and vegetables.

References :

Chapin III, F.S., P.A. Matson, H.A. Mooney. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Springer-Verlag New York , NY. 2002

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Chapter 24