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Phytochemistry. 2002 Jul;60(6):551-65.

Laccase: new functions for an old enzyme.

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Department of Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


Laccases occur widely in fungi; they have been characterized less frequently in higher plants. Here we have focused on more recent reports on the occurrence of laccase and its functions in physiological development and industrial utility. The reports of molecular weights, pH optima, and substrate specificity are extremely diverse. Conclusive proof of the occurrence of laccase in a tissue must demonstrate that the enzyme be able to oxidize quinol with concomitant uptake of oxygen. Laccase is involved in the pigmentation process of fungal spores, the regeneration of tobacco protoplasts, as fungal virulence factors, and in lignification of cell walls and delignification during white rot of wood. Commercially, laccases have been used to delignify woody tissues, produce ethanol, and to distinguish between morphine and codeine. A very wide variety of bioremediation processes employ laccase in order to protect the environment from damage caused by industrial effluents. Research in recent years has been intense, much of it elicited by the wide diversity of laccases, their utility and their very interesting enzymology.

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