Using enzymes as decontaminating agents has received great attention. One of the most promising groups of enzymes, laccases, are used to decontaminate phenol-polluted systems and for bio technological applications. Higher plants and fungi, mostly wood-rotting fungi, are the main producers of laccases, but bacterial laccases also have been found. Belonging to the class of phenoloxidases, laccases catalyze the polymerization of several phenolic substances to polymeric products. In addition, they have transformed lignin and lignin-related compounds, showing a very broad substrate specificity. Specific compounds acting as protein-synthesis inducers historically have been used to improve the production of the enzyme. Recent success in fungal molecular and cellular engineering technology has contributed to significantly increase the industrial production of recombinant laccase. Kinetic (Michaelis-Menten parameters, optimum pH, kcat) and stability properties of laccases may vary according to the source of the enzymes. Laccases are used in a variety of applications, such as to remove toxic compounds from aquatic and terrestrial systems, to produce and treat beverages, as analytical tools, and as biosensors to estimate the quantity of phenols in natural juices or the presence of other enzymes. Laccases have been used successfully in immobilized form as well as dissolved in organic solvents.
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