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FEBS Lett. 1996 Aug 5;391(1-2):144-8.

A fungal metabolite mediates degradation of non-phenolic lignin structures and synthetic lignin by laccase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-7229, USA.


Lignin peroxidase is generally considered to be a primary catalyst for oxidative depolymerization of lignin by white-rot fungi. However, some white-rot fungi lack lignin peroxidase. Instead, many produce laccase, even though the redox potentials of known laccases are too low to directly oxidize the non-phenolic components of lignin. Pycnoporus cinnabarinus is one example of a laccase-producing fungus that degrades lignin very efficiently. To overcome the redox potential barrier, P. cinnabarinus produces a metabolite, 3-hydroxyanthranilate that can mediate the oxidation of how non-phenolic substrates by laccase. This is the first description of how laccase might function in a biological system for the complete depolymerization of lignin.

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