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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Bacillus pumilus laccase: a heat stable enzyme with a wide substrate spectrum

Renate Reiss, Julian Ihssen and Linda Thöny-Meyer*

Author Affiliations

Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Biomaterials, Lerchenfeldstr.5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland

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BMC Biotechnology 2011, 11:9  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-11-9

Published: 25 January 2011



Laccases are multi-copper oxidases that catalyze the one electron oxidation of a broad range of compounds. Laccase substrates include substituted phenols, arylamines and aromatic thiols. Such compounds are activated by the enzyme to the corresponding radicals. Owing to their broad substrate range laccases are considered to be versatile biocatalysts which are capable of oxidizing natural and non-natural industrial compounds, with water as sole by-product.


A novel CotA-type laccase from Bacillus pumilus was cloned, expressed and purified and its biochemical characteristics are presented here. The molecular weight of the purified laccase was estimated to be 58 kDa and the enzyme was found to be associated with four copper atoms. Its catalytic activity towards 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS), 2,6-dimethoxyphenol (2,6-DMP) and syringaldazine (SGZ) was investigated. The kinetic parameters KM and kcat for ABTS were 80 ± 4 μM and 291 ± 2.7 s-1, for 2,6-DMP 680 ± 27 μM and 11 ± 0.1 s-1 and for SGZ only kcat could be estimated to be 66 ± 1.5 s-1. The pH optimum for ABTS was 4, for 2,6-DMP 7 and for SGZ 6.5 and temperature optima for ABTS and 2,6-DMP were found to be around 70°C. The screening of 37 natural and non-natural compounds as substrates for B. pumilus laccase revealed 18 suitable compounds. Three of them served as redox mediators in the laccase-catalyzed decolorization of the dye indigocarmine (IC), thus assessing the new enzyme's biotechnological potential.


The fully copper loaded, thermostable CotA laccase from Bacillus pumilus is a versatile laccase with potential applications as an industrial biocatalyst.