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ALPHA AMYLASE

Product No. P01154

Alpha amylase is an enzyme that hydrolyses alpha-bonds of large alpha-linked polysaccharides such as starch and glycogen, yielding glucose and maltose. It is the major form of amylase found in humans and other mammals. It is also present in seeds containing starch as a food reserve, and is secreted by many fungi.

Alpha-amylase begins the process of starch digestion. It takes starch chains and breaks them into smaller pieces with two or three glucose units. Two similar types of amylase are made in your body--one is secreted in saliva, where it starts to break down starch grains as you chew, and the other is secreted by the pancreas, where it finishes its job. Then, these little pieces are broken into individual glucose units by a collection of enzymes on the walls of the intestine.

Since amylase needs to perform its job in the unpleasant environment of the intestine, it is a small, stable enzyme resistant to unfavorable conditions.  

Alpha-amylase is used in large quantities in the production of high fructose corn syrup, a mixture of sugars created from corn that is similar in taste and sweetness to the sucrose obtained from sugar beets and sugar cane. The process requires three steps, each performed by a different enzyme. Amylase performs the first step of breaking starch into small pieces. Bacterial amylases are typically used since they are easy to obtain in large quantities. The second step is performed by a fungal glucoamylase which breaks the small chains into individual glucose units. As glucose does not have a particularly palatable taste, a third step must be added. This is performed by glucose isomerase, also known as xylose isomerase which converts some of the glucose into fructose, creating a tasty mixture that is used to sweeten everything from soft drinks to power bars.

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