PAZy, a protein family database on plastics active enzymes

Petroleum-based plastics are durable and accumulate in all ecological niches, but knowledge on enzymatic degradation is sparse. Today, less than 50 verified plastics-active enzymes are known. First examples of enzymes acting on the polymers polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyurethane (PUR) have been reported together with a detailed biochemical and structural description. Further, very few polyamide (PA) oligomer active enzymes are known. In this paper, the current known enzymes acting on the synthetic polymers PET and PUR are briefly summarized, their published activity data were collected and integrated into a comprehensive open access database. The Plastics-Active Enzymes Database (PAZy) represents an inventory of known and experimentally verified enzymes that act on synthetic fossil fuel-based polymers. Almost 3000 homologues of PET-active enzymes were identified by profile hidden Markov models. Over 2000 homologues of PUR-active enzymes were identified by BLAST. Based on multiple sequence alignments, conservation analysis identified the most conserved amino acids, and sequence motifs for PET- and PUR-active enzymes were derived.
This research project is funded by BMBF in the framework of the programme "Bioeconomy International 2016"


  1. Zhang, H., Pérez-García, P., Dierkes, R., Danso, D., Pleiss, J., Almeida, A., Höcker, B., Schmitz-Streit, R., Chow, J., Streit, W., Applegate, V., Schumacher, J., Chibani, C., Sternagel, S., Preuss, L., Weigert, S., Schmeisser, C., Hallam, S., & Smits, S. (2022). The Bacteroidetes Aequorivita sp. and Kaistella jeonii produce promiscuous esterases with PET-hydrolyzing activity. Front Microbiol, 12, 803896.
  2. Buchholz, P. C. F., Feuerriegel, G., Zhang, H., Perez-Garcia, P., Nover, L.-L., Chow, J., Streit, W. R., & Pleiss, J. (2022). Plastics degradation by hydrolytic enzymes: The plastics-active enzymes database—PAZy. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics, 90(7), Article 7.
  3. Chow, J., Pleiss, J., & Streit, W. R. (2022). PAZy — mikrobielle Enzyme für den Abbau künstlicher Polymere. BIOspektrum, 28(4), Article 4.

Project Members

This image shows Max  Häußler

Max Häußler



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