—Improving a plastic-degrading enzyme for better recycling “Adding sugars to a cutinase enzyme makes it more effective at breaking down polyethylene terephthalate” Stabilizing a bacterial enzyme by strategically decorating it with sugars could help it recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the polymer widely used to make plastic water and shampoo bottles (Biochemistry 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b01189). The enzyme, called cutinase, breaks down PET into ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which can be recovered to make new bottles. But at the optimal PET processing temperature of 75 °C, cutinase begins to unfold and form clumps. To prevent formation of these inactive clumps, Richard A. Gross of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and colleagues genetically engineered yeast to produce a cutinase originally isolated from microbes found in leaf and branch compost.
by Melissae Fellet, special to C&EN |
March 05, 2018