Bacillus subtilis lipase a—lipase or esterase?

Paula Bracco, Nelleke van Midden, Epifanía Arango, Guzman Torrelo, Valerio Ferrario, Lucia Gardossi, Ulf Hanefeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


The question of how to distinguish between lipases and esterases is about as old as the definition of the subclassification is. Many different criteria have been proposed to this end, all indicative but not decisive. Here, the activity of lipases in dry organic solvents as a criterion is probed on a minimal α/β hydrolase fold enzyme, the Bacillus subtilis lipase A (BSLA), and compared to Candida antarctica lipase B (CALB), a proven lipase. Both hydrolases show activity in dry solvents and this proves BSLA to be a lipase. Overall, this demonstrates the value of this additional parameter to distinguish between lipases and esterases. Lipases tend to be active in dry organic solvents, while esterases are not active under these circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number308
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bacillus subtilis lipase A
  • Esterase
  • Hydrolase
  • Lipase
  • Organic solvent
  • Transesterification
  • Water activity

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