The mechanisms of enzymatic PET degradation

The working groups of Matysik, Sommer, and Künze together with colleagues from Leipzig and Spain have obtained new insights into the mechanism by which enzymes degrade polyethylene terephthalate (PET), one of the most widely used plastic materials. Enzymatic PET degradation is considered a possible eco-friendly recycling solution for plastic waste. Using solid-state NMR spectroscopy and numerical simulations, the authors were able to monitor the PET hydrolysis catalyzed by the thermophilic enzyme TfCut2 in real-time and detect important reaction intermediates and their interaction with the enzyme’s active site. The results of that study will be published in the next issue of ACS Catalysis.