Background: Since its inception, the carbohydrate-active enzymes database (CAZy; http://www.cazy.org) has described the families of enzymes that cleave or build complex carbohydrates, namely the glycoside hydrolases (GH), the polysaccharide lyases (PL), the carbohydrate esterases (CE), the glycosyltransferases (GT) and their appended non-catalytic carbohydrate-binding modules (CBM). The recent discovery that members of families CBM33 and family GH61 are in fact lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMO), demands a reclassification of these families into a suitable category.
Results: Because lignin is invariably found together with polysaccharides in the plant cell wall and because lignin fragments are likely to act in concert with (LPMO), we have decided to join the families of lignin degradation enzymes to the LPMO families and launch a new CAZy class that we name "Auxiliary Activities" in order to accommodate a range of enzyme mechanisms and substrates related to lignocellulose conversion. Comparative analyses of these auxiliary activities in 41 fungal genomes reveal a pertinent division of several fungal groups and subgroups combining their phylogenetic origin and their nutritional mode (white vs. brown rot).
Conclusions: The new class introduced in the CAZy database extends the traditional CAZy families, and provides a better coverage of the full extent of the lignocellulose breakdown machinery.