Professor John McGeehan and Dr Gregg Beckham (University of Portsmouth) and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL discovered the crystal structure of PETase. PETase comes from Ideonella sakaiensis, a bacteria that was discovered outside of a bottle recycling factory. Scientists believe that with further investigation into how PETase degrades PET they will be able to engineer the enzyme to degrade PET more efficiently and design other enzymes that can also break down plastics.
The enzyme can also breakdown PEF (polyethylene furandicarboxylate), which is a bio-based substitute PET plastic.
A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate)
Shosuke Yoshida, Kazumi Hiraga, Toshihiko Takehana, Ikuo Taniguchi, Hironao Yamaji, Yasuhito Maeda, Kiyotsuna Toyohara, Kenji Miyamoto, Yoshiharu Kimura, Kohei Oda
Active Site Flexibility as a Hallmark for Efficient PET Degradation by I.Â sakaiensis PETase
Tobias Fecker, Pablo Galaz-Davison, Felipe Engelberger, YoshieNarui, Marcos Sotomayor, Lorto P.Parra, César A.Ramírez-Sarmiento
Characterization of Biodegradable Plastics
Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme
University of Portsmouth
Structural insight into the molecular mechanism of PET degradation
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)