Purification and characterization of laccase from Chaetomium thermophilium and its role in humification

Benny Chefetz, Yona Chen*, Yitzhak Hadar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Chaetomium thermophilium was isolated from composting municipal solid waste during the thermophilic stage of the process. C. thermophilium, a cellulolytic fungus, exhibited laccase activity when it was grown at 45°C both in solid media and in liquid media. Laccase activity reached a peak after 24 h in liquid shake culture. Laccase was purified by ultrafiltration, anion-exchange chromatography, and affinity chromatography. The purified enzyme was identified as a glycoprotein with a molecular mass of 77 kDa and an isoelectric point of 5.1. The laccase was stable for 1 h at 70°C and had half-lives of 24 and 12 h at 40 and 50°C, respectively. The enzyme was stable at pH 5 to 10, and the optimum pH for enzyme activity was 6. The purified laccase efficiently catalyzed a wide range of phenolic substrates but not tyrosine. The highest levels of affinity were the levels of affinity to syringaldazine and hydroxyquinone. The UV-visible light spectrum of the purified laccase had a peak at 604 nm (i.e., Cu type I), and the activity was strongly inhibited by Cu-chelating agents. When the hydrophobic acid fraction (the humic fraction of the water-soluble organic matter obtained from municipal solid waste compost) was added to a reaction assay mixture containing laccase and guaiacol, polymerization took place and a soluble polymer was formed. C. thermophilium laccase, which is produced during the thermophilic stage of composting, can remain active for a long period of time at high temperatures and alkaline pH values, and we suggest that this enzyme is involved in the humification process during composting.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3175-3179
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1998


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