Microbial enzyme systems for lignin degradation and their transcriptional regulation

Takanori Furukawa, Fatai Olumide Bello, Louise Horsfall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant renewable resource in nature and has received considerable attention as one of the most promising alternatives to oil resources for the provision of energy and certain raw materials. The phenolic polymer lignin is the second most abundant constituent of this biomass resource and has been shown to have the potential to be converted into industrially important aromatic chemicals after degradation. However, due to its chemical and structural nature, it exhibits high resistance toward mechanical, chemical, and biological degradation, and this causes a major obstacle for achieving efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass. In nature, lignin-degrading microorganisms have evolved unique extracellular enzyme systems to decompose lignin using radical mediated oxidative reactions. These microorganisms produce a set of different combinations of enzymes with multiple isozymes and isoforms by responding to various environmental stimuli such as nutrient availability, oxygen concentration and temperature, which are thought to enable effective decomposition of the lignin in lignocellulosic biomass. In this review, we present an overview of the microbial ligninolytic enzyme systems including general molecular aspects, structural features, and systematic differences in each microorganism. We also describe the gene expression pattern and the transcriptional regulation mechanisms of each ligninolytic enzyme with current data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-471
Number of pages24
JournalFrontiers of oral biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2014


  • laccases
  • lignin degradation
  • lignin peroxidases
  • lignocellulose biorefinery
  • manganese peroxidases
  • versatile peroxidases


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