Journal article Open Access

A polyesterase from the Antarctic bacterium Moraxella sp. degrades highly crystalline synthetic polymers

Efstratios Nikolaivits; George Taxeidis; Christina Gkountela; Stamatina Vouyiouka; Veselin Maslak; Jasmina Nikodinovic-Runic; Evangelos Topakas

The uncontrolled release of plastics in the environment has rendered them ubiquitous around the planet, threatening the wildlife and human health. Biodegradation and valorization of plastics has emerged as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional management techniques. Discovery of novel polymer-degrading enzymes with diversified properties is hence an important task in order to explore different operational conditions for plastic-waste upcycling. In the present study, a barely studied psychrophilic enzyme (MoPE) from the Antractic bacterium Moraxella sp. was heterologously expressed, characterized and its potential in polymer degradation was further investigated. Based on its amino acid composition and structure, MoPE resembled PET-degrading enzymes, sharing features from both mesophilic and thermophilic homologues. MoPE hydrolyzes non-biodegradable plastics, such as polyethylene terephthalate and polyurethane, as well as biodegradable synthetic polyesters, such as polycaprolactone, polyhydroxy butyrate, polybutylene succinate and polylactic acid. The mass fraction crystallinity of the aliphatic polymers tested ranged from 11-64% highlighting the potential of the enzyme to hydrolyze highly crystalline plastics. MoPE was able to degrade different types of amorphous and semi-crystalline PET, releasing water-soluble monomers and showed synergy with a feruloyl esterase of the tannase family for the release of terephthalic acid. Based on the above, MoPE was characterized as a versatile psychrophilic polyesterase demonstrating a broad-range plastics degradation potential.

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