AMWEst, a new thermostable and detergent-tolerant esterase retrieved from the Albian aquifer

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2024 Dec;108(1):114. doi: 10.1007/s00253-023-12844-2. Epub 2024 Jan 10.


A fosmid library was constructed with the metagenomic DNA from the high-temperature sediment-rich water of the Albian aquifer (Algeria). Functional screening of this library was subsequently done looking for genes encoding lipolytic enzymes. We identified a novel gene named AMWEst (1209 base pairs) encoding a protein of 402 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 43.44 kDa and conferring esterase activity. AMWEst was successfully overexpressed in the yeast mesophilic host Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the expression system used proved to be efficient and produced sufficient activity for its biochemical characterization. Multiple sequence alignment indicated that AMWEst contained a conserved pentapeptide motif (Gly120-His121-Ser122-Gln123-Gly124). The optimum pH and temperature of the recombinant esterase AMWEst were 8 and 80 °C, respectively. Additionally, AMWEst showed higher activity towards short carbon substrates and showed maximum activity for p-nitrophenyl hexanoate (C6). Notably, AMWEst has a remarkable thermostability, and the enzyme retains almost maximum activity at 70 °C after incubation for 1 h. Moreover, enzyme activity was enhanced by high concentrations of SDS and Triton X-100 detergents. KEY POINTS: • A novel thermostable esterase has been retrieved through functional metagenomics • The esterase is detergent-tolerant, which is attractive for some applications • The esterase can be expressed in a yeast mesophilic host to enhance its yield.

Keywords: Esterase; Metagenomics; Next-generation sequencing; S. cerevisiae.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids
  • Carbon
  • Detergents*
  • Esterases* / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics


  • Esterases
  • Detergents
  • Amino Acids
  • Carbon