Collect. Czech. Chem. Commun. 1983, 48, 790-797

Deesterification mode of pectin by pectin esterases of Aspergillus foetidus, tomatoes and alfalfa

Rudolf Kohn, Oskar Markovič and Eva Machová

Institute of Chemistry, Slovak Academy of Sciences, 842 38 Bratislava


The effect of microbial pectin esterases (Aspergillus foetidus) and higher plants (tomatoes, alfalfa) on high-esterified pectin was investigated. Pectin derivatives of esterification degree E 42-66% were prepared by a partial deesterification catalyzed by the above-mentioned enzymes. The distribution pattern of free and esterified carboxyl groups in the linear pectin macromolecule was determined on the basis of activity coefficients of counterions γCa2+ as found in solutions of the proper calcium pectinates. The activity coefficients γCa2+ were compared with the corresponding γCa2+ values determined in pectins partially deesterified with alkali, with a random distribution pattern of free carboxyl groups. The plant pectin esterases under investigation lead to a block-wise arrangement of the free carboxyl groups in the pectin molecule, whereas A. foetidus pectin esterase cleaves randomly the ester groups in the same mode as do the alkali hydroxides. Significant differences were observed with final products of enzyme deesterification of pectin even in the selectivity of Ca2+ 2K+ cation exchange, as documented by the change of electrostatic free enthalpy of exchange of these cations. The different mechanism of action of plant and A. foetidus pectin esterases was thus unambiguously proved by a physico-chemical method.