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Biochem J. Apr 15, 2002; 363(Pt 2): 377–386.
PMCID: PMC1222489

The Aspergillus niger faeB gene encodes a second feruloyl esterase involved in pectin and xylan degradation and is specifically induced in the presence of aromatic compounds.


The faeB gene encoding a second feruloyl esterase from Aspergillus niger has been cloned and characterized. It consists of an open reading frame of 1644 bp containing one intron. The gene encodes a protein of 521 amino acids that has sequence similarity to that of an Aspergillus oryzae tannase. However, the encoded enzyme, feruloyl esterase B (FAEB), does not have tannase activity. Comparison of the physical characteristics and substrate specificity of FAEB with those of a cinnamoyl esterase from A. niger [Kroon, Faulds and Williamson (1996) Biotechnol. Appl. Biochem. 23, 255-262] suggests that they are in fact the same enzyme. The expression of faeB is specifically induced in the presence of certain aromatic compounds, but not in the presence of other constituents present in plant-cell-wall polysaccharides such as arabinoxylan or pectin. The expression profile of faeB in the presence of aromatic compounds was compared with the expression of A. niger faeA, encoding feruloyl esterase A (FAEA), and A. niger bphA, the gene encoding a benzoate-p-hydroxylase. All three genes have different subsets of aromatic compounds that induce their expression, indicating the presence of different transcription activating systems in A. niger that respond to aromatic compounds. Comparison of the activity of FAEA and FAEB on sugar-beet pectin and wheat arabinoxylan demonstrated that they are both involved in the degradation of both polysaccharides, but have opposite preferences for these substrates. FAEA is more active than FAEB towards wheat arabinoxylan, whereas FAEB is more active than FAEA towards sugar-beet pectin.

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Selected References

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