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Distinction Between Esterases and Lipases: Comparative Biochemical Properties of Sequence-Related Carboxylesterases

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Carboxylesterases (Carboxyl ester hydrolase) include two groups of enzymes, namely non-specific esterases (EC and lipases (EC which have been early differentiated on the basis of their substrate specificity. Esterases hydrolyse solutions of water-soluble short acyl chain esters and are inactive against water-insoluble long chain triacylglycerols which, in turn, are specifically hydrolyzed by lipases. Based on the comparison of the primary structures, three families of sequence-related carboxylesterases, namely the lipoprotein lipase family (L-family), the hormonesensitive lipase family (H-family) and the cholinesterase family (C-family) have been identified. Using solutions and emulsions of vinyl, glyceryl and p-nitrophenyl esters, we have reinvestigated the kinetic properties of some esterases and lipases of the H- and C-families. Results indicate that esterases and lipases, which are both active on soluble esters, can be differentiated by their value of Km. Moreover, esterase, unlike lipases, are inactive against water-insoluble esters as vinyl laurate and trioctanoylglycerol. From the the comparison of structural features of sequence-related esterases and lipases, it appears that lipases, unlike esterases, display a significant difference in the distribution of hydrophobic amino acid residues at vicinity of their active site. This observation supports the hypothesis of the existence in lipases of a particular surface domain that specifically interacts with lipid-water interfaces and contributes to the transfer a single substrate molecule from the organized lipid-water interface (supersubstrate) to the catalytic site of the enzyme.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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