What are monoclonal chito-oligosaccharides?

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Chitin oligomers and chitosan oligomers can be produced biotechnologically in microbial cell factories expressing a chitin synthase alone or a chitin synthase together with a chitin de-N-acetylase, respectively. The choice of chitin synthase determines the degree of polymerisation of the chitin oligomer produced while the choice of chitin deacetylase determines the degree of acetylation and the pattern of acetylation of the chitosan oligomer produced. As a given bacterial clone expressing a given set of chitin synthase and chitin deacetylase produces a single, fully defined chitin or chitosan oligomer, the resulting oligomers are called monoclonal chito-oligosaccharides. As the production can be scaled up to industrial scale in large fermenters, this approach potentially gives access to large amounts of pure chitin and chitosan oligomers at a fraction of the cost of conventional production methods (which in fact can yield pure fully acetylated GlcNAc or fully deacetylated GlcN oligomers, but rarely pure partially acetylated chitosan oligomers).