A new family of carbohydrate esterases is represented by a GDSL hydrolase/acetylxylan esterase from Geobacillus stearothermophilus

Onit Alalouf, Yael Balazs, Margarita Volkinshtein, Yael Grimpel, Gil Shoham, Yuval Shoham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Acetylxylan esterases hydrolyze the ester linkages of acetyl groups at positions 2 and/or 3 of the xylose moieties in xylan and play an important role in enhancing the accessibility of xylanases to the xylan backbone. The hemicellulolytic system of the thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilus T-6 comprises a putative acetylxylan esterase gene, axe2. The gene product belongs to the GDSL hydrolase family and does not share sequence homology with any of the carbohydrate esterases in the CAZy Database. The axe2 gene is induced by xylose, and the purified gene product completely deacetylates xylobiose peracetate (fully acetylated) and hydrolyzes the synthetic substrates 2-naphthyl acetate, 4-nitrophenyl acetate, 4-methylumbelliferyl acetate, and phenyl acetate. The pH profiles for k cat and k cat/K m suggest the existence of two ionizable groups affecting the binding of the substrate to the enzyme. Using NMR spectroscopy, the regioselectivity of Axe2 was directly determined with the aid of one-dimensional selective total correlation spectroscopy. Methyl 2,3,4-tri-O-acetyl-β-D-xylopyranoside was rapidly deacetylated at position 2 or at positions 3 and 4 to give either diacetyl or monoacetyl intermediates, respectively; methyl 2,3,4,6-tetra-O- acetyl-β-D-glucopyranoside was initially deacetylated at position 6. In both cases, the complete hydrolysis of the intermediates occurred at a much slower rate, suggesting that the preferred substrate is the peracetate sugar form. Site-directed mutagenesis of Ser-15, His-194, and Asp- 191 resulted in complete inactivation of the enzyme, consistent with their role as the catalytic triad. Overall, our results show that Axe2 is a serine acetylxylan esterase representing a new carbohydrate esterase family.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)41993-42001
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - 9 Dec 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'A new family of carbohydrate esterases is represented by a GDSL hydrolase/acetylxylan esterase from Geobacillus stearothermophilus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this