This paper reviews the general characteristics of exo and endopeptidases of microbial origin currently used in
the milk industry. It also includes recent patents developed either to potentiate the enzymatic activity or to improve the resulting
milk derivatives. The main application of these proteases is in the cheese-making industry. Although this industry
preferentially uses animal rennets, and in particular genetically engineered chymosins, it also utilizes milk coagulants of
microbial origin. Enzymes derived from Rhizomucor miehei, Rhizomucor pusillus and Cryphonectria parasitica are currently
used to replace the conventional milk-clotting enzymes. In addition, the dairy industry uses microbial endo and
exoproteases for relatively new applications, such as debittering and flavor generation in cheese, accelerated cheese ripening,
manufacture of protein hydrolysates with improved functional properties, and production of enzyme-modified
cheeses. Lactic acid bacteria play an essential role in these processes, hence these bacteria and the proteases they produce
are currently being investigated by the dairy industry and are the subject of many of their patent applications.
Keywords: Acid lactic bacteria, bioactive peptides, cheese flavor, cheese ripening, coagulants, dairy products, genetically
modified starters, milk-clotting enzymes, proteases, proteolysis.
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