Efficient activity screening of new glucuronoyl esterases using a pNP-based assay

Michael S. Madsen, Pedro A. Martins, Jane W. Agger*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Glucuronoyl esterases (CE15, EC catalyze the hydrolysis of ester bonds between lignin and carbohydrates in lignocellulose. They are widespread within fungi and bacteria, and are subjects to research interest due to their potential applicability in lignocellulose processing. Identifying new and relevant glucuronoyl esterase candidates is challenging because available model substrates poorly represent the natural substrate, which leads to inefficient screening for the activity. In this study, we demonstrate how fifteen novel, fungal, putative glucuronoyl esterases from family CE15 were expressed and screened for activity towards a commercially available, colorimetric assay based on the methyl-ester of 4-O-methyl-aldotriuronic acid linked to para-nitrophenol (methyl ester-UX-β-pNP) and coupled with the activity of GH67 (α-glucuronidase) and GH43 (β-xylosidase) activity. The assay provides easy means for accurately establishing activity and determining specific activity of glucuronoyl esterases. Out of the fifteen expressed CE15 proteins, seven are active and were purified to determine their specific activity. The seven active enzymes originate from Auricularia subglabra (3 proteins), Ganoderma sinensis (2 proteins) and Neocallimastix californiae (2 proteins). Among the CE15 proteins not active towards the screening substrate (methyl ester-UX-β-pNP) were proteins originating from Schizophyllum commune, Podospora anserina, Trametes versicolor, and Coprinopsis cinerea. It is unexpected that CE15 proteins from such canonical lignocellulose degraders do not have the anticipated activity, and these observations call for deeper investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110444
JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • CE15
  • Glucuronoyl esterases
  • Lignin carbohydrate complexes
  • Recombiant expression
  • Activity screenign
  • Specific activity


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