New insights into cinnamoyl esterase activity of Oenococcus oeni

Ingrid Collombel, Chrats Melkonian, Douwe Molenaar, Francisco M. Campos, Tim Hogg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Some strains of Oenococcus oeni possess cinnamoyl esterase activity that can be relevant in the malolactic stage of wine production liberating hydroxycinnamic acids that are precursors of volatile phenols responsible for sensory faults. The objective of this study was to better understand the basis of the differential activity between strains. After initial screening, five commercial strains of O. oeni were selected, three were found to exhibit cinnamoyl esterase activity (CE+) and two not (CE−). Although the use of functional annotation of genes revealed genotypic variations between the strains, no specific genes common only to the three CE+ strains could explain the different activities. Pasteurized wine was used as a natural source of tartrate esters in growth and metabolism experiments conducted in MRS medium, whilst commercial trans-caftaric acid was used as substrate for enzyme assays. Detoxification did not seem to be the main biological mechanism involved in the activity since unlike its phenolic cleavage products and their immediate metabolites (trans-caffeic acid and 4-ethylcatechol), trans-caftaric acid was not toxic toward O. oeni. In the case of the two CE+ strains OenosTM and CiNeTM, wine-exposed samples showed a more rapid degradation of trans-caftaric acid than the unexposed ones. The CE activity was present in all cell-free extracts of both wine-exposed and unexposed strains, except in the cell-free extracts of the CE− strain CH11TM. This activity may be constitutive rather than induced by exposure to tartrate esters. Trans-caftaric acid was totally cleaved to trans-caffeic acid by cell-free extracts of the three CE+ strains, whilst cell-free extracts of the CE− strain CH16TM showed significantly lower activity, although higher for the strains in experiments with no prior wine exposure. The EstB28 esterase gene, found in the genomes of the 5 strains, did not reveal any difference on the upstream regulation and transport functionality between the strains. This study highlights the complexity of the basis of this activity in wine related O. oeni population. Variable cinnamoyl esterases or/and membrane transport activities in the O. oeni strains analyzed and a possible implication of wine molecules could explain this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2597
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2019


  • Cinnamoyl esterase
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids
  • Oenococcus oeni
  • Tartrate esters
  • Wine


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