Polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, is a plastic abundantly used in packaging and containers. Though PET is the most recycled plastic in the U.S., 3.1 million tons are produced annually and its current recycling rate is only 31%. Traditional remediation methods such as pelleting yield less products for every PET regeneration. Also, the microbial remediation with wild-type PET degrading enzymes (commonly called PETase) cannot be used under many current recycling conditions and has low degradation rates. To generate enzymes with higher degradation rates and thermostability, we developed machine learning algorithms to generate a number of candidate enzyme sequences. These candidate enzymes were then expressed and purified from E. coli BL21 and tested for the improved degradation of PET plastic using the NanoDrop method for validation. Project apPETite is an attempt to provide a framework for developing an enzyme with enhanced PET plastic degradation.
UIUC iGEM is engineering the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) degrading enzyme with improved thermostability and degradation rate