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Summary

Poly-γ-glutamate (PGA), a novel polyamide material with industrial applications, possesses a nylon-like backbone, is structurally similar to polyacrylic acid, is biodegradable and is safe for human consumption. PGA is frequently found in the mucilage of natto, a Japanese traditional fermented food. To date, three different types of PGA, namely a homo polymer of d-glutamate (D-PGA), a homo polymer of l-glutamate (L-PGA), and a random copolymer consisting of d- and l-glutamate (DL-PGA), are known. This review will detail the occurrence and physiology of PGA. The proposed reaction mechanism of PGA synthesis including its localization and the structure of the involved enzyme, PGA synthetase, are described. The occurrence of multiple carboxyl residues in PGA likely plays a role in its relative unsuitability for the development of bio-nylon plastics and thus, establishment of an efficient PGA-reforming strategy is of great importance. Aside from the potential applications of PGA proposed to date, a new technique for chemical transformation of PGA is also discussed. Finally, some techniques for PGA and its derivatives in advanced material technology are presented.