Oxidases in Aromatic Metabolism

  • V. S. Butt
Part of the Recent Advances in Phytochemistry book series (RAPT, volume 12)


The three major enzymes able to catalyze the oxidation of polyphenols — peroxidase, laccase and polyphenol oxidase — were each discovered before the turn of the century. The oxidation of tincture of guaiac to a blue colour by hydrogen peroxide in the presence of extracts of some mushrooms and animal tissues was first demonstrated by Schoenbein50in 1855, the requirement for thermolabile substances in the darkening and hardening of juice from the Oriental lacquer tree (Rhus vernicifera) was reported by Yoshida70in 1883 and tyrosinase was extracted fron mushrooms by Bertrand5in 1896. Bertrand4suggested, at about the same time, that laccase, and later tyrosinase, were metalloenzymes, in which the presence of copper was later established by Keilin and Mann29a,29b; the presence and function of iron in peroxidase was also demonstrated by Keilin and Mann29the enzyme being crystallized soon afterwards by Theorell56in 1942. Since then, extensive investigations of the mechanisms of oxidation catalyzed by these enzymes have followed leading to reaction schemes which account in part or whole for their kinetic properties (see, for example, Hamilton23; Malmström et al.35; Yamazaki et al.69). Yet despite their long history, the functions of these enzymes in the metabolism of aromatic compounds remain largely unknown, though with some guidelines along which to work.


Oxidase Activity Caffeic Acid Polyphenol Oxidase Broad Bean Hydroxylase Activity 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. S. Butt
    • 1
  1. 1.Botany SchoolOxford UniversityEngland

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