Developing novel enzymatic activities for plastic biodegradation
PI: Gianluca Molla and Loredano Pollegioni
Valentina Pirillo, Marco Orlando
Pirillo V. et al. Analytical methods for the investigation of enzyme-catalyzed degradation of polyethylene terephthalate. FEBS J. 2021. doi: 10.1111/febs.15850. Review.
Davide Tessaro, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, IT
Annalisa Grimaldi, University of Insubria, Varese, IT
Marcella Reguzzoni, University of Insubria, IT
Plastic pollution has become a global concern in any sector of the human society. This is due to the accumulation of post-consumer synthetic plastic waste, which are highly resistant to many physical, chemical and biological factors.
The chemical backbone of some plastic polymers, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is more susceptible to enzymatic biodegradation, which provides a novel and eco-friendly strategy for removing and recycling plastic wastes.
This project aims at the production of an efficient polyester hydrolase suitable for PET degradation, through the application of protein engineering and in vitro directed evolution approaches based on literature- and database-screened enzymes active in the hydrolysis of PET (PETase). In silico analyses will be employed to target specific enzyme variants, reducing the time needed to unlock their full potentiality. The produced variants will show enhanced catalytic properties (e.g., an increased activity towards high crystalline PET) and an improved thermal and chemical stability.