From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
PETase 5XH3 with HEMT-cartoon.png
EC number3.1.1.101
Alt. namesPET hydrolase, poly(ethylene terephthalate) hydrolase
IntEnzIntEnz view
ExPASyNiceZyme view
MetaCycmetabolic pathway
PDB structuresRCSB PDB PDBe PDBsum

PETases are an esterase class of enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of poly (ethylene terephthalate) PET plastic to monomeric mono-2-hydroxyethyl terephthalate (MHET). The idealized chemical reaction is (where n is the number of monomers in the polymer chain):[1]

(ethylene terephthalate)n + H2O → (ethylene terephthalate)n-1 + MHET

Trace amount of the PET breaks down to bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET). PETases can also break down PEF-plastic (polyethylene-2,5-furandicarboxylate), which is a bioderived PET replacement. PETases can't catalyze the hydrolysis of aliphatic polyesters like polybutylene succinate or polylactic acid.[2]


The first PETase enzyme was discovered in 2016 from Ideonella sakaiensis strain 201-F6 bacteria found from sludge samples collected close to a Japanese PET bottle recycling site.[1][3] Scientists suggested that the PETase enzyme may have had past enzymatic activity associated with degradation of a waxy coating on plants. [4] Normally the natural degradation of PET without PETase will take hundred of years. [5] PET (polyethylene terephthalate-plastics)is a very common source of many plastic items used in the daily life. PETase can degrade PET in a way that is not harmful to the environment. [6] Other types of PET degrading hydolases have been known before this discovery.[2] These include hydrolases such as: lipases, esterases, and cutinases. [7] Discoveries of polyester degrading enzymes date at least as far back as 1975 (α-chymotrypsin)[8] and 1977 (lipase) for example.[9] PET plastic was put into widespread use in the 1970s and it has been suggested that PETases in bacteria evolved only recently.[2]

Chemical Reaction - PETase Hydrolysis[edit]

Plastic breakdown by PETase [10]

PETase hydrolyses PET (polyethylene terephthalate) into soluble building blocks due to reaction with water which is a bioconversion of plastics. [11] PET is a polymer composed of ester bond-linked terephthalate (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG). A high molecular weight and other properties make PET a great utilizing plastic. By the hydrolysis reaction PET hydrolyzing enzymes decompose PET into building blocks which is helpful for the environment. During the hydrolyzing PET, the enzyme produces mono-(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid (MHET), TPA ,and bis-2(hydroxyethyl) TPA (BHET). [7] The novel bacteria called Ideonella sakaieensis is isolating and it utilize PET as an energy and carbon source. The ideonella sakaieensis sticks to the surface of PET and keep a cutinase enzyme that allow PET to degrade. That reaction allows to degrade PET, and make it less harmful for the environment.

MHET breakdown in I. sakaiensis[edit]

MHET is broken down in I. sakaiensis by the action of MHETase enzyme to terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.[1] The I. sakaiensis bacterium adhere to the PET surface and release a unique enzyme, similar to cutinase, with the ability to degrade PET.


Surface of the PETase double mutant (R103G and S131A) with HEMT (1-(2-hydroxyethyl) 4-methyl terephthalate) bound to its active site. HEMT is a close analogue of MHET. HEMT has an additional methanol esterified to it. MHET binds to the site in a similar manner. PDBID: 5XH3.
Ribbon diagram of PETase with three residues Ser160, Asp206, and His237. The catalytic triad is represented by cyan-colored sticks. The active site is shown in orange to represent stimulation by a 2-HE(MHET)4 molecule. [12]

As of April 2018, there were 13 known three-dimensional crystal structures of PETases: 6EQD, 6EQE, 6EQF, 6EQG, 6EQH, 6ANE, 5XJH, 5YNS, 5XFY, 5XFZ, 5XG0, 5XH2 and 5XH3. PETase exhibits shared qualities with both lipases and cutinases in that it possesses an α/β-hydrolase fold; although, the active-site cleft observed in PETase is more open than in cutinases. [13] Scientists revolutionized the degradation rate of PET by PETase as a result of narrowing of the binding site through mutation of two active-site residues, although there are three comprising the active site. In the location of the active site, a catalytic triad is formed by the three residues Ser160, Asp206, and His237. [14]

Animations and images[edit]

PET MHET after PETase

enzyme breakdown

from PET

animation of

breakdown from

PET to ethylene glycol

and terephthalic acid

PET.jpg MHET.jpg
end result of


further breakdown
Ethylene glycol and terephthalate acid.jpg Carbon dioxide and water.jpg


In 2018 scientists from the University of Portsmouth with the collaboration of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy developed a mutant of this PETase that degrades PET faster than the one in its natural state. In this study it was also shown that PETases can degrade polyethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate (PEF).[2]

Figure A. Classification of PETase-like enzymes. Figure B. A comparison of residues between two type II sub-classes and type I class of PETase-like enzymes. [15]

There are approximately 69 PETase-like enzymes comprising a variety of diverse organisms, and there are two classifications of these enzymes including type I and type II. [14] It is suggested that 57 enzymes fall into the type I category whereas the rest fall into the type II group, including the PETase enzyme found in the Ideonella sakaiensis. Within all 69 PETase-like enzymes, there exists the same three residues within the active site, suggesting that the catalytic mechanism is the same in all forms of PETase-like enzymes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Yoshida S, Hiraga K, Takehana T, Taniguchi I, Yamaji H, Maeda Y, Toyohara K, Miyamoto K, Kimura Y, Oda K (March 2016). "A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate)". Science. 351 (6278): 1196–9. doi:10.1126/science.aad6359. PMID 26965627. Lay summary (PDF) (2016-03-30).
  2. ^ a b c d Austin HP, Allen MD, Donohoe BS, Rorrer NA, Kearns FL, Silveira RL, Pollard BC, Dominick G, Duman R, El Omari K, Mykhaylyk V, Wagner A, Michener WE, Amore A, Skaf MS, Crowley MF, Thorne AW, Johnson CW, Woodcock HL, McGeehan JE, Beckham GT (May 2018). "Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115 (19): E4350–E4357. doi:10.1073/pnas.1718804115. PMID 29666242.
  3. ^ Tanasupawat S, Takehana T, Yoshida S, Hiraga K, Oda K (August 2016). "Ideonella sakaiensis sp. nov., isolated from a microbial consortium that degrades poly(ethylene terephthalate)". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 66 (8): 2813–8. doi:10.1099/ijsem.0.001058. PMID 27045688.
  4. ^ "Lab 'Accident' Becomes Mutant Enzyme That Devours Plastic". Live Science. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  5. ^ Dockrill, Peter. "Scientists Have Accidentally Created a Mutant Enzyme That Eats Plastic Waste". ScienceAlert. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  6. ^ Joo, S.; Kim, K.-J. (2018-02-14). "Crystal strcuture of PETase from Ideonella sakaiensis". doi:10.2210/pdb5xjh/pdb. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  7. ^ a b Han, Xu; Liu, Weidong; Huang, Jian-Wen; Ma, Jiantao; Zheng, Yingying; Ko, Tzu-Ping; Xu, Limin; Cheng, Ya-Shan; Chen, Chun-Chi (December 2017). "Structural insight into catalytic mechanism of PET hydrolase". Nature Communications. 8 (1). doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02255-z. ISSN 2041-1723.
  8. ^ Tabushi I, Yamada H, Matsuzaki H, Furukawa J (August 1975). "Polyester readily hydrolyzable by chymotrypsin". Journal of Polymer Science: Polymer Letters Edition. 13 (8): 447–450. doi:10.1002/pol.1975.130130801.
  9. ^ Tokiwa Y, Suzuki T (November 1977). "Hydrolysis of polyesters by lipases". Nature. 270 (5632): 76–8. doi:10.1038/270076a0. PMID 927523.
  10. ^ Figure 2. Chan, Allison (2016). "The Future of Bacteria Cleaning Our Plastic Waste."
  11. ^ Chan, Allison (2016). "The Future of Bacteria Cleaning Our Plastic Waste".
  12. ^ Figure 2. Chan, Allison (2016). "The Future of Bacteria Cleaning Our Plastic Waste."
  13. ^ Austin, Harry P.; Allen, Mark D.; Donohoe, Bryon S.; Rorrer, Nicholas A.; Kearns, Fiona L.; Silveira, Rodrigo L.; Pollard, Benjamin C.; Dominick, Graham; Duman, Ramona (2018-05-08). "Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (19): E4350–E4357. doi:10.1073/pnas.1718804115. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 29666242.
  14. ^ a b Joo, Seongjoon; Cho, In Jin; Seo, Hogyun; Son, Hyeoncheol Francis; Sagong, Hye-Young; Shin, Tae Joo; Choi, So Young; Lee, Sang Yup; Kim, Kyung-Jin (2018-01-26). "Structural insight into molecular mechanism of poly(ethylene terephthalate) degradation". Nature Communications. 9 (1). doi:10.1038/s41467-018-02881-1. ISSN 2041-1723.
  15. ^ Figure 2. Chan, Allison (2016). "The Future of Bacteria Cleaning Our Plastic Waste."