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pectin (pek´tin)

Broad generic term for what are now called pectic substances or materials; specifically, a gelatinous substance, consisting largely of long chains of mostly d-galacturonic acid units (typically a-1,4 linkages and sometimes present as methyl esters), that is extracted from fruits where it is presumed to exist as protopectin (pectose). Commercial p.'s are sometimes called pectinic acid and are used in the preparation of jams, jellies, and similar food products; therapeutically, they are used to control diarrhea (usually in conjunction with other agents), as a plasma expander, and as a protectant; p.'s bind calcium ions and are highly hydrated.
p. lyase an enzyme that catalyzes the elimination of 6-methyl-DELTA-4,5-d-galacturonate residues from pectin; thus, it brings about depolymerization; it does not act on de-esterified p.; used in the treatment of certain foodstuffs.


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