Structural insights into carboxylic polyester-degrading enzymes and their functional depolymerizing neighbors

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Esters are organic compounds widely represented in cellular structures and metabolism, originated by the condensation of organic acids and alcohols. Esterification reactions are also used by chemical industries for the production of synthetic plastic polymers. Polyester plastics are an increasing source of environmental pollution due to their intrinsic stability and limited recycling efforts. Bioremediation of polyesters based on the use of specific microbial enzymes is an interesting alternative to the current methods for the valorization of used plastics. Microbial esterases are prom-ising catalysts for the biodegradation of polyesters that can be engineered to improve their biochemical properties. In this work, we analyzed the structure-activity relationships in microbial esterases, with special focus on the recently described plastic-degrading enzymes isolated from marine microorganisms and their structural homologs. Our analysis, based on structure-alignment, molecular docking, coevolution of amino acids and surface electrostatics determined the specific characteristics of some polyester hydrolases that could be related with their efficiency in the degradation of aromatic polyesters, such as phthalates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2332
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Biodegradation
  • Depolymerizing esterase
  • Esterase
  • PETase
  • Plastic polymer
  • Polyester


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