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Current knowledge on enzymatic PET degradation and its possible application to waste stream management and other fields

Kawai, Fusako, Kawabata, Takeshi, Oda, Masayuki
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2019 v.103 no.11 pp. 4253-4268
X-ray diffraction, cutinase, enzymatic hydrolysis, hydrolysis, polyethylene terephthalates, proteinases, reaction mechanisms, wastes
Enzymatic hydrolysis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has been the subject of extensive previous research that can be grouped into two categories, viz. enzymatic surface modification of polyester fibers and management of PET waste by enzymatic hydrolysis. Different enzymes with rather specific properties are required for these two processes. Enzymatic surface modification is possible with several hydrolases, such as lipases, carboxylesterases, cutinases, and proteases. These enzymes should be designated as PET surface–modifying enzymes and should not degrade the building blocks of PET but should hydrolyze the surface polymer chain so that the intensity of PET is not weakened. Conversely, management of PET waste requires substantial degradation of the building blocks of PET; therefore, only a limited number of cutinases have been recognized as PET hydrolases since the first PET hydrolase was discovered by Müller et al. (Macromol Rapid Commun 26:1400–1405, 2005). Here, we introduce current knowledge on enzymatic degradation of PET with a focus on the key class of enzymes, PET hydrolases, pertaining to the definition of enzymatic requirements for PET hydrolysis, structural analyses of PET hydrolases, and the reaction mechanisms. This review gives a deep insight into the structural basis and dynamics of PET hydrolases based on the recent progress in X-ray crystallography. Based on the knowledge accumulated to date, we discuss the potential for PET hydrolysis applications, such as in designing waste stream management.