Aspergillus terreus MTCC 11096 isolated from the soils of agricultural fields cultivating sweet sorghum was previously identified to produce feruloyl esterases (FAEs). The enzymes responsible for feruloyl esterase activity were purified to homogeneity and named as AtFAE-1, AtFAE-2, and AtFAE-3. The enzymes were monomeric having molecular masses of 74, 23 and 36 kDa, respectively. Active protein bands were identified by a developed pH-dependent zymogram on native PAGE. The three enzymes exhibited variation in pH tolerance ranging between pH 5–8 and thermostability of up to 55°C. Inhibition studies revealed that the serine residue was essential for feruloyl esterase activity; moreover aspartyl and glutamyl residues are not totally involved at the active site. Metal ions such as Ca2+, K+, and Mg2+ stabilized the enzyme activity for all three FAEs. Kinetic data indicated that all three enzymes showed catalytic efficiencies (kcat/Km) against different synthesized alkyl and aryl esters indicating their broad substrate specificity. The peptide mass fingerprinting by MALDI/TOF-MS analysis and enzyme affinity toward methoxy and hydroxy substituents on the benzene ring revealed that the AtFAE-1 belonged to type A while AtFAE-2 and AtFAE-3 were type C FAE. The FAEs could release 65 to 90% of ferulic acid from agrowaste substrates in the presence of xylanase. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:924–932, 2013
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