World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Chitinous

Article Id: WHEBN0001308774
Reproduction Date:

Title: Chitinous  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Paul Buckmaster
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Chitinous

Not to be confused with chiton.



Chitin (C8H13O5N)n (/ˈktɨn/ ) is a long-chain polymer of a N-acetylglucosamine, a derivative of glucose, and is found in many places throughout the natural world. It is the main component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans (e.g., crabs, lobsters and shrimps) and insects, the radulas of mollusks, and the beaks and internal shells of cephalopods, including squid and octopuses. In terms of structure, chitin may be compared to the polysaccharide cellulose and, exist in nature in the form of nanocrystallites named nanofibrils or whiskers . In terms of function, it may be compared to the protein keratin. Chitin has also proven useful for several medical and industrial purposes. It is interesting to remember the special nanostructures recovered in bird plumage or in butterfly wings that, organized as nano-layers or nano-sticks made of chitin nanocrystals, mimic different kind of colors.[1]

Etymology

The English word "chitin" comes from the French word chitine, which first appeared in 1821 and derived from the Greek word χιτον (chiton), meaning covering.[2]

A similar word, "chiton", refers to a marine animal with a protective shell (also known as a "sea cradle").

Chemistry, physical properties and biological function

The structure of chitin was solved by Albert Hofmann in 1929.[3]

Chitin is a modified polysaccharide that contains nitrogen; it is synthesized from units of N-acetylglucosamine (to be precise, 2-(acetylamino)-2-deoxy-D-glucose). These units form covalent β-1,4 linkages (similar to the linkages between glucose units forming cellulose). Therefore, chitin may be described as cellulose with one hydroxyl group on each monomer replaced with an acetyl amine group. This allows for increased hydrogen bonding between adjacent polymers, giving the chitin-polymer matrix increased strength.


In its unmodified form, chitin is translucent, pliable, resilient, and quite tough. In arthropods, however, it is often modified, becoming embedded in sclerotin, a tanned proteinaceous matrix, which forms much of the exoskeleton. In its pure form, chitin is leathery, but in most invertebrates it occurs largely as a component of composite materials. Combined with calcium carbonate, as in the shells of Crustacea and molluscs, chitin produces a much stronger composite. On the one hand the composite is harder and stiffer than pure chitin, while on the other hand it is tougher and less brittle than the mineral substance alone.[4] Another difference between pure and composite forms can be seen by comparing the flexible body wall between the segments of a caterpillar (mainly chitin) to the stiff, light elytron of a beetle (containing a large proportion of sclerotin).[5]

Fossil record

For more on the preservation potential of chitin and other biopolymers, see taphonomy.

Chitin was probably present in the exoskeletons of

Uses

Agriculture

Most recent studies point out that chitin is a good inducer for defense mechanisms in plants.[7] It has also been assessed as a fertilizer that can improve overall crop yields.[8] The EPA regulates chitin for agricultural use within the USA.[9] Chitosan is prepared from chitin by deacetylation.

Industrial

Chitin is used in industry in many processes. Examples of the potential uses of chemically modified chitin in food processing include the formation edible films and as an additive to thicken and stabilize foods[10] and pharmaceuticals. It also acts as a binder in dyes, fabrics, and adhesives. Industrial separation membranes and ion-exchange media can be made from chitin. Processes to size and strengthen paper employ chitin and chitosan.[11][12]

Medicine

Chitin's properties as a flexible and strong material make it favorable as surgical thread. Its biodegradibility means it wears away with time as the wound heals. Moreover, chitin has some unusual properties that accelerate healing of wounds in humans.[13][14][15][full citation needed][16]

Occupations associated with high environmental chitin levels, such as shellfish processors, are prone to high incidences of asthma. Recent studies have suggested that chitin may play a role in a possible pathway in human allergic disease. To be specific, mice treated with chitin develop an allergic response, characterized by a build-up of interleukin-4-expressing innate immune cells. In these treated mice, additional treatment with a chitinase enzyme abolishes the response.[17]

Biomedical research

Chitin may be employed for affinity purification of recombinant protein. A chitin binding domain is genetically fused to a protein of interest and then contacted to beads coated with chitin. The immobilized protein is purified and released from the beads by cleaving off the chitin binding domain.

See also

References

  1. P. Karrer and A. Hofmann (1929) "Polysaccharide XXXIX. Über den enzymatischen Abbau von Chitin and Chitosan I," Helvetica Chimica Acta, 12 (1) : 616-637.
  2. Nathaniel S. Finney and Jay S. Siegel (2008) "In Memorian: Albert Hofmann (1906-2008)," Chimia, 62 (5) : 444-447 ; see page 444. Available on-line at: University of Zurich

External links

  • Horseshoe Crab Chitin Research
  • Information about Chitin (Heppe Medical Chitosan)
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.