U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Switched reaction specificity in polyesterases towards amide bond hydrolysis by enzyme engineering

Antonino Biundo, Raditya Subagia, Michael Maurer, Doris Ribitsch, Per-Olof Syrén, Georg M. Guebitz
RSC advances 2019 v.9 no.62 pp. 36217-36226
Humicola insolens, Thermobifida, amidase, amides, biocatalysts, catalytic activity, cutinase, depolymerization, engineering, enzyme activity, hydrogen bonding, hydrolysis, microplastics, molecular dynamics, nylon, polyamides, polyethylene terephthalates, recycling
The recalcitrance of plastics like nylon and other polyamides contributes to environmental problems (e.g. microplastics in oceans) and restricts possibilities for recycling. The fact that hitherto discovered amidases (EC 3.5.1. and 3.5.2.) only show no, or low, activity on polyamides currently obstructs biotechnological-assisted depolymerization of man-made materials. In this work, we capitalized on enzyme engineering to enhance the promiscuous amidase activity of polyesterases. Through enzyme design we created a reallocated water network adapted for hydrogen bond formation to synthetic amide backbones for enhanced transition state stabilization in the polyester-hydrolyzing biocatalysts Humicola insolens cutinase and Thermobifida cellulosilytica cutinase 1. This novel concept enabled increased catalytic efficiency towards amide-containing soluble substrates. The afforded enhanced hydrolysis of the amide bond-containing insoluble substrate 3PA 6,6 by designed variants was aligned with improved transition state stabilization identified by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Furthermore, the presence of a favorable water-molecule network that interacted with synthetic amides in the variants resulted in a reduced activity on polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Our data demonstrate the potential of using enzyme engineering to improve the amidase activity for polyesterases to act on synthetic amide-containing polymers.