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Characterization and distribution of esterase activity in activated sludge

, : Characterization and distribution of esterase activity in activated sludge. Water Research 35(17): 4208-4216

The location and activity of esterase enzymes in activated sludge from three municipal wastewater treatment plants were characterized using model substrates and denaturing and non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) of particulate, freeze-thaw (primarily periplasmic enzymes and those associated with outer cell surfaces) and extracellular fractions of activated sludge bacteria. Particulate and freeze-thaw fractions had a similar spectrum of substrate specificity and contained significant levels of protein and esterase activity against model substrates, C2-C18 monoesters of p-nitrophenol and C2-C8 diesters of fluorescein. Esterase activity was highest with substrates that had short alkyl chains (C4) and decreased as the chain lengths increased beyond C8. Extracellular fractions contained very low levels of protein (<0.1 mg/l) and showed no esterase activity against any of the model substrates tested. Multiple bands were observed upon analysis of particulate and freeze-thaw fractions by non-denaturing PAGE in combination with activity staining using various alpha-naphthol ester substrates (C2-C8). Our results indicate that esterase enzymes in activated sludge are fairly diverse from a structural standpoint but exhibit a high level of functional redundancy, with different enzymes catalyzing the same reactions in different sludges. Extracellular esterase activity was totally absent for the substrates we tested and the esterase activity that we observed was closely linked to a particulate floc or cellular material.


PMID: 11791851

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