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FEBS J. 2015 Apr;282(7):1190-213. doi: 10.1111/febs.13224. Epub 2015 Feb 20.

Lignin-degrading enzymes.

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Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e Scienze della Vita, Università degli studi dell'Insubria, Varese, Italy; The Protein Factory, Centro Interuniversitario di Biotecnologie Proteiche, Politecnico di Milano, ICRM CNR Milano, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, Italy.


A main goal of green biotechnology is to reduce our dependence on fossil reserves and to increase the use of renewable materials. For this, lignocellulose, which is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, represents the most promising feedstock. The latter is a complex aromatic heteropolymer formed by radical polymerization of guaiacyl, syringyl, and p-hydroxyphenyl units linked by β-aryl ether linkages, biphenyl bonds and heterocyclic linkages. Accordingly, lignin appears to be a potentially valuable renewable aromatic chemical, thus representing a main pillar in future biorefinery. The resistance of lignin to breakdown is the main bottleneck in this process, although a variety of white-rot fungi, as well as bacteria, have been reported to degrade lignin by employing different enzymes and catabolic pathways. Here, recent investigations have expanded the range of natural biocatalysts involved in lignin degradation/modification and significant progress related to enzyme engineering and recombinant expression has been made. The present review is focused primarily on recent trends in ligninolytic green biotechnology to suggest the potential (industrial) application of ligninolytic enzymes. Future perspectives could include synergy between natural enzymes from different sources (as well as those obtained by protein engineering) and other pretreatment methods that may be required for optimal results in enzyme-based, environmentally friendly, technologies.


biorefinery; green biotechnology; lignin valorization; ligninolytic enzymes; lignocellulosic biomass

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