Amylase is the name given to glycoside hydrolase enzymes that break down starch into maltose molecules. Although the amylases are designated by different Greek letters, they all act on α-1,4-glycosidic bonds. Under the original name of diastase, amylase was the first enzyme to be found and isolated (by Anselme Payen in 1833).
This enzyme which breaks down (hydrolyzes) starch, the reserve carbohydrate in plants, and glycogen, the reserve carbohydrate in animals, into reducing fermentable sugars, mainly maltose, and reducing nonfermentable or slowly fermentable dextrins. Amylases are classified as saccharifying (β-amylase) and as dextrinizing (α-amylases). The α- and β-amylases are specific for the α- and β-glucosidic bonds which connect the monosaccharide units into large aggregates, the polysaccharides. The α-amylases are found in all types of organs and tissues, whereas β-amylase is found almost exclusively in higher plants.
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