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Sulfated fucans, often denoted fucoidans, are highly variable cell wall polysaccharides of brown algae, which possess a wide range of bioactive properties with potential pharmaceutical applications. Due to their complex architecture, the structures of algal fucans have until now only been partly determined. Enzymes capable of hydrolyzing sulfated fucans may allow specific release of defined bioactive oligosaccharides and may serve as a tool for structural elucidation of algal walls. Currently, such enzymes include only a few hydrolases belonging to the glycoside hydrolase family 107 (GH107), and little is known about their mechanistics and the substrates they degrade. In this study, we report the identification and recombinant production of three novel GH107 family proteins derived from a marine metagenome. Activity screening against a large substrate collection showed that all three enzymes degraded sulfated fucans from brown algae in the order Fucales. This is in accordance with a hydrolytic activity against α-1,4-fucosidic linkages in sulfated fucans as reported for previous GH107 members. Also, the activity screening gave new indications about the structural differences of brown algal cell walls. Finally, sequence analyses allowed identification of the proposed catalytic residues of the GH107 family. The findings presented here form a new basis for understanding the GH107 family of enzymes and investigating the complex sulfated fucans from brown algae. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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