Concentration-Dependent Inhibition of Mesophilic PETases on Poly(ethylene terephthalate) Can Be Eliminated by Enzyme Engineering

ChemSusChem. 2023 Apr 21;16(8):e202202277. doi: 10.1002/cssc.202202277. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Enzyme-based depolymerization is a viable approach for recycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). PETase from Ideonella sakaiensis (IsPETase) is capable of PET hydrolysis under mild conditions but suffers from concentration-dependent inhibition. In this study, this inhibition is found to be dependent on incubation time, the solution conditions, and PET surface area. Furthermore, this inhibition is evident in other mesophilic PET-degrading enzymes to varying degrees, independent of the level of PET depolymerization activity. The inhibition has no clear structural basis, but moderately thermostable IsPETase variants exhibit reduced inhibition, and the property is completely absent in the highly thermostable HotPETase, previously engineered by directed evolution, which simulations suggest results from reduced flexibility around the active site. This work highlights a limitation in applying natural mesophilic hydrolases for PET hydrolysis and reveals an unexpected positive outcome of engineering these enzymes for enhanced thermostability.

Keywords: PETase; biocatalysis; hydrolases; mesophilic enzymes; plastics.

MeSH terms

  • Ethylenes
  • Hydrolases
  • Phthalic Acids* / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates* / chemistry


  • terephthalic acid
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • Hydrolases
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Ethylenes