Influence of soil humic and fulvic acid on the activity and stability of lysozyme and urease

Y. Li, W. Tan, L.K. Koopal, M. Wang, Fan Liu, W. Norde

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Humic substances (HS), including humic acids (HA) and fulvic acids (FA), are important components of soil systems. HS form strong complexes with oppositely charged proteins, which will lead to changes in the enzyme activity. The effect of soil HS on the activity and stability of two enzymes was investigated as a function of pH, ionic strength, and mass ratio HS/enzyme. Humic acid (JGHA) and fulvic acid (JGFA) are negatively charged, lysozyme is net positive at pH values below 10.4, and urease is net positive below pH 5.2 or net negative above pH 5.2. The enzyme activities in the HS-enzyme complexes were suppressed when the enzymes were oppositely charged to the HS. The largest activity suppression was observed around the mass ratio HS/enzyme where the HS-protein complex was at its isoelectric point (IEP). At the IEP strong aggregation of the complexes led to encapsulation of the enzyme. The ionic strength was important; an increase decreased complex formation, but increased aggregation. Due to the larger hydrophobicity of JGHA than JGFA, the reduction in enzyme activity was stronger for JGHA. The enzyme stability also decreased maximally at mass ratio around the IEP of the complex when HS and protein were oppositely charged. When urease and HS were both negatively charged no complexes were formed, but the presence of JGHA or JGFA improved the activity and stability of the enzyme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5050-5056
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • isothermal titration calorimetry
  • insecticidal cry1ab protein
  • ionic-strength
  • prion protein
  • ph
  • adsorption
  • complexes
  • binding
  • substances
  • fractions


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