Although α-1,3-glucan is a major cell wall polysaccharide in filamentous fungi, its biological functions remain unclear, except that it acts as a virulence factor in animal and plant pathogenic fungi: it conceals cell wall β-glucan on the fungal cell surface to circumvent recognition by hosts. However, cell wall α-1,3-glucan is also present in many of non-pathogenic fungi. Recently, the universal function of α-1,3-glucan as an aggregation factor has been demonstrated. Applications of fungi with modified cell wall α-1,3-glucan in the fermentation industry and of in vitro enzymatically-synthesized α-1,3-glucan in bio-plastics have been developed. This review focuses on the recent progress in our understanding of the biological functions and biosynthetic mechanism of cell wall α-1,3-glucan in fungi. We briefly consider the history of studies on α-1,3-glucan, overview its biological functions and biosynthesis, and finally consider the industrial applications of fungi deficient in α-1,3-glucan.
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