Announcement: Guest Lecture in April!

We are happy to welcome Prof. Dr. Bian Wu from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for a guest lecture on “Computational redesign of PET hydrolases for efficient PET depolymerization” on Friday, 5th of April 2024, at 11 a.m. (CET).


Biotechnological plastic depolymerization and recycling have emerged as suitable options for addressing the pollution crisis caused by plastic waste in a circular plastic economy. Enzymatic degradation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), as the most typical representative, has evolved over the past two decades. However, the depolymerization efficacy of current PET hydrolases remains suboptimal, both in ambient in situ depolymerization and under industrially relevant conditions at elevated temperatures. We address current challenges by employing computational strategies that incorporate a protein language model and force-field-based algorithms to engineer PET hydrolases for efficient PET depolymerization. The engineered enzymes demonstrate significantly improved degradation performance. Nearly complete depolymerization of the postconsumer PET bottles can be accomplished by one of the redesigned enzymes, TurboPETase, in 8 h at a high industrially relevant level of solids loading (200 g kg-1 ). Kinetic parameters and structural analysis have revealed the underlying molecular mechanism of the enhanced depolymerization performance. Our research constitutes advance in understanding and engineering of effective industrially applicable polyester hydrolases and provides guidance for further efforts on other mass-produced polymer types in this intriguing research field.