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FEBS Lett. 1999 Mar 5;446(1):49-54.

Biodegradative mechanism of the brown rot basidiomycete Gloeophyllum trabeum: evidence for an extracellular hydroquinone-driven fenton reaction.

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Institute for Microbial and Biochemical Technology, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI 53705, USA.


We have identified key components of the extracellular oxidative system that the brown rot fungus Gloeophyllum trabeum uses to degrade a recalcitrant polymer, polyethylene glycol, via hydrogen abstraction reactions. G. trabeum produced an extracellular metabolite, 2,5-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone, and reduced it to 2,5-dimethoxyhydroquinone. In the presence of 2,5-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone, the fungus also reduced extracellular Fe3+ to Fe2+ and produced extracellular H2O2. Fe3+ reduction and H2O2 formation both resulted from a direct, non-enzymatic reaction between 2,5-dimethoxyhydroquinone and Fe3+. Polyethylene glycol depolymerization by G. trabeum required both 2,5-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone and Fe3+ and was completely inhibited by catalase. These results provide evidence that G. trabeum uses a hydroquinone-driven Fenton reaction to cleave polyethylene glycol. We propose that similar reactions account for the ability of G. trabeum to attack lignocellulose.

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