Chitin biodegradation is linked to fungi cell differentiation, nematode egg hatching, arthropods morphogenesis and human defense
against malaria and other pathogens infection as well. Two classes of enzymes for chitin degradation include glycosyl hydrolase
(GH) family 18 chitinases and family 20 β-N-acetyl-D-hexosaminidases. However, more and more research papers have revealed that either
GH 18 family chitinases or GH 20 family β-N-acetyl-D-hexosaminidases are a family composed of a number of isoforms, each of
which plays an exclusive role in different life processes. The development of novel and specific inhibitors towards chitinolytic enzymes
is of great importance in the investigation of or interference with chitin biodegradation. This review focuses on identified enzymes that
are specifically involved in chitin degradation. And the latest progresses on crystal structures and specific inhibitors are summarized
within the realm of this field.
Keywords: Chitin, chitinase, hexosaminidases, crystal structure, inhibitor.
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