The production of D-ribose by fermentation has received much attention lately, possibly because of the use of this pentose to synthesize antiviral and anti-cancer drugs. This review briefly outlines the methods that have been used to synthesize D-ribose since it was identified in yeast RNA, and focuses in particular on the latest developments in D-ribose fermentation, which have led to D-ribose yields that exceed 90 g/1. Furthermore, the various transketolase-deficient D-ribose-producing mutants that are used, and the biochemical and genetic rationales applied to select them or to enhance their D-ribose productivities, are dealt with. Attention is also drawn to the unusual pleiotropic characteristics of the mutant strains, as well as to the industrial and academic applications of D-ribose.
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