Clostridium cellulovorans, an anaerobic and mesophilic bacterium, degrades native substrates in soft biomass such as corn fibre and rice straw efficiently by producing an extracellular enzyme complex called the cellulosome. Recently, we have reported the whole‐genome sequence of C. cellulovorans comprising 4220 predicted genes in 5.10 Mbp [Y. Tamaru et al., (2010) J. Bacteriol., 192: 901–902]. As a result, the genome size of C. cellulovorans was about 1 Mbp larger than that of other cellulosome‐producing clostridia, mesophilic C. cellulolyticum and thermophilic C. thermocellum. A total of 57 cellulosomal genes were found in the C. cellulovorans genome, and they coded for not only carbohydrate‐degrading enzymes but also a lipase, peptidases and proteinase inhibitors. Interestingly, two novel genes encoding scaffolding proteins were found in the genome. According to KEGG metabolic pathways and their comparison with 11 Clostridial genomes, gene expansion in the C. cellulovorans genome indicated mainly non‐cellulosomal genes encoding hemicellulases and pectin‐degrading enzymes. Thus, by examining genome sequences from multiple Clostridium species, comparative genomics offers new insight into genome evolution and the way natural selection moulds functional DNA sequence evolution. Our analysis, coupled with the genome sequence data, provides a roadmap for constructing enhanced cellulosome‐producing Clostridium strains for industrial applications such as biofuel production.
Cellulosomes and noncellulosomal (hemi)cellulolytic enzymes are produced by Clostridium cellulovorans to degrade plant cell walls. To understand their synergistic relationship, changes in mRNA and protein expression in cellulosomes and noncellulosomal (hemi)cellulolytic enzymes (hereafter called noncellulosomal enzymes) of cultures grown on cellobiose, cellulose, pectin, xylan, and corn fiber or mixtures thereof were examined. Cellulase expression, favored particularly by the presence of Avicel, was found with all substrates. Comparison of cellulosome and noncellulosomal enzymes showed that expression profiles were strongly affected by the carbon source. High xylanase or pectate lyase expression was observed when C. cellulovorans was grown on xylan or pectin, respectively. Mixed carbon substrates (cellulose-pectin-xylan mixture or corn fiber) induced a wider variety of enzymes than a single carbon source, such as cellobiose, pectin, or xylan. Cellulosomal proteome profiles were more affected by the carbon source than the noncellulosomal enzymes. Transcription and protein analyses revealed that cellulosomes and noncellulosomal enzymes were expressed simultaneously on mixed carbon sources, but their degree of inducibility varied when the substrate was either cellulose or cellobiose. Cellulosomes and noncellulosomal enzymes had synergistic activity on various carbon substrates. These results indicated that expression of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes is highly influenced by the available carbon source and that synergy between cellulosomes and noncellulosomal enzymes contribute to plant cell wall degradation.
The properties of the cellulosome (the cellulose-binding, multicellulase-containing protein complex) in Clostridium thermocellum were examined by comparing the cellulase systems derived from the wild type and an adherence-defective mutant. The growth conditions--specifically, growth either on cellulose (Avicel) or on cellobiose as insoluble or soluble carbon sources, respectively--were found to be critical to the distribution of the cellulosome in the mutant system: the cellobiose-grown mutant (in contrast to the wild type) lacked the cellulosome on its surface and produced only minor quantities of the extracellular cellulosome accompanied by other relatively low-molecular-weight cellulases. The polypeptide composition of the respective purified cellulosome was dependent on the nature of the carbon source and was similar for both wild-type and mutant cells. Ultrastructural analysis revealed the presence of novel polycellulosomal protuberances on the cell surface of the cellobiose-grown wild type which were absent in the mutant.
Clostridium cellulovorans produces a cellulase enzyme complex (cellulosome). In this study, we isolated two plant cell wall-degrading cellulosomal fractions from culture supernatant of C. cellulovorans and determined their subunit compositions and enzymatic activities. One of the cellulosomal fractions showed fourfold-higher plant cell wall-degrading activity than the other. Both cellulosomal fractions contained the same nine subunits (the scaffolding protein CbpA, endoglucanases EngE and EngK, cellobiohydrolase ExgS, xylanase XynA, mannanase ManA, and three unknown proteins), although the relative amounts of the subunits differed. Since only cellobiose was released from plant cell walls by the cellulosomal fractions, cellobiohydrolases were considered to be key enzymes for plant cell wall degradation.
Cellulosome synthesis by Clostridium cellulovorans was investigated by growing the cells in media containing different carbon sources. Supernatant from cells grown with cellobiose contained no cellulosomes and only the free forms of cellulosomal major subunits CbpA, P100, and P70 and the minor subunits with enzymatic activity. Supernatant from cells grown on pebble-milled cellulose and Avicel contained cellulosomes capable of degrading crystalline cellulose. Supernatants from cells grown with cellobiose, pebble-milled cellulose, and Avicel contained about the same amount of carboxymethyl cellulase activity. Although the supernatant from the medium containing cellobiose did not initially contain active cellulosomes, the addition of crystalline cellulose to the cell-free supernatant fraction converted the free major forms to cellulosomes with the ability to degrade crystalline cellulose. The binding of P100 and P70 to crystalline cellulose was dependent on their attachment to the endoglucanase-binding domains of CbpA. These data strongly indicate that crystalline cellulose promotes cellulosome assembly.
Microbial degradation of plant cell walls and its conversion to sugars and other byproducts is a key step in the carbon cycle on Earth. In order to process heterogeneous plant-derived biomass, specialized anaerobic bacteria use an elaborate multi-enzyme cellulosome complex to synergistically deconstruct cellulosic substrates. The cellulosome was first discovered in the cellulolytic thermophile, Clostridium thermocellum, and much of our knowledge of this intriguing type of protein composite is based on the cellulosome of this environmentally and biotechnologically important bacterium. The recently sequenced genome of the cellulolytic mesophile, Acetivibrio cellulolyticus, allows detailed comparison of the cellulosomes of these two select cellulosome-producing bacteria.
Comprehensive analysis of the A. cellulolyticus draft genome sequence revealed a very sophisticated cellulosome system. Compared to C. thermocellum, the cellulosomal architecture of A. cellulolyticus is much more extensive, whereby the genome encodes for twice the number of cohesin- and dockerin-containing proteins. The A. cellulolyticus genome has thus evolved an inflated number of 143 dockerin-containing genes, coding for multimodular proteins with distinctive catalytic and carbohydrate-binding modules that play critical roles in biomass degradation. Additionally, 41 putative cohesin modules distributed in 16 different scaffoldin proteins were identified in the genome, representing a broader diversity and modularity than those of Clostridium thermocellum. Although many of the A. cellulolyticus scaffoldins appear in unconventional modular combinations, elements of the basic structural scaffoldins are maintained in both species. In addition, both species exhibit similarly elaborate cell-anchoring and cellulosome-related gene- regulatory elements.
This work portrays a particularly intricate, cell-surface cellulosome system in A. cellulolyticus and provides a blueprint for examining the specific roles of the various cellulosomal components in the degradation of complex carbohydrate substrates of the plant cell wall by the bacterium.
Cellulosomics; Clostridium thermocellum; Scaffoldin; Cohesin; Dockerin
Clostridium cellulovorans, an anaerobic bacterium, degrades native substrates efficiently by producing an extracellular enzyme complex called the cellulosome. All cellulosomal enzyme subunits contain dockerin domains that can bind to hydrophobic domains termed cohesins which are repeated nine times in CbpA, the nonenzymatic scaffolding protein of C. cellulovorans cellulosomes. In this study, the synergistic interactions of cellulases (endoglucanase E, EngE; endoglucanase L, EngL) and hemicellulases (arabinofuranosidase A, ArfA; xylanase A, XynA) were determined on the degradation of corn fiber, a natural substrate containing mainly xylan, arabinan, and cellulose. The degradation by XynA and ArfA of cellulose/arabinoxylan was greater than that of corn fiber and resulted in 2.6-fold and 1.4-fold increases in synergy, respectively. Synergistic effects were observed in increments in both simultaneous and sequential reactions with ArfA and XynA. These synergistic enzymes appear to represent potential rate-limiting enzymes for efficient hemicellulose degradation. When mini-cellulosomes were constructed from the cellulosomal enzymes (XynA and EngL) and mini-CbpA with cohesins 1 and 2 (mini-CbpA1&2) and mini-CbpA with cohesins 5 and 6 (mini-CbpA5&6), higher activity was observed than that for the corresponding enzymes alone. Based on the degradation of different types of celluloses and hemicelluloses, the interaction between cellulosomal enzymes (XynA and EngL) and mini-CbpA displayed a diversity that suggests that dockerin-cohesin interaction from C. cellulovorans may be more selective than random.
engE, coding for endoglucanase E, one of the three major subunits of the Clostridium cellulovorans cellulosome, has been cloned and sequenced (Y. Tamaru and R. H. Doi, J. Bacteriol. 181:3270-3276, 1999). The N-terminal-half region of EngE possesses three repeated surface layer homology (SLH) domains, which are homologous to those of some bacterial S-layer proteins. Also, the C-terminal-half region consists of a catalytic domain of glycosyl hydrolase family 5 and a duplicated sequence (dockerin) for binding EngE to scaffolding protein CbpA. Our hypothesis is that the SLH domains serve in the role of anchoring to the cell surface. This model was investigated by using recombinant EngEs (rEngE) with and without SLH domains that were synthesized in Escherichia coli and cell wall preparations from C. cellulovorans. When rEngE and SLH polypeptides of EngE were incubated with cell wall fragments prepared by sodium dodecyl sulfate treatment, these proteins bound strongly to the cell wall. However, rEngEs without SLH domains lost their ability to bind to cell walls. When rEngE was incubated with mini-CbpA, consisting of two cohesin domains, and cell wall fragments, the mini-CbpA was able to bind to the cell wall with rEngE. However, the binding of mini-CbpA was dramatically inhibited by addition of a chelating reagent, such as EDTA, which prevents cohesin-dockerin interactions. These results suggest not only that the SLH domains of EngE can bind to the cell surface but also that EngE plays an anchoring role for cellulosomes through the interaction of its dockerin domain with a CbpA cohesin.
A large gene cluster for the Clostridium cellulovorans cellulosome has been cloned and sequenced upstream and downstream of the cbpA and exgS genes (C.-C. Liu and R. H. Doi, Gene 211:39–47, 1998). Gene walking revealed that the engL gene cluster (Y. Tamaru and R. H. Doi, J. Bacteriol. 182:244–247, 2000) was located downstream of the cbpA-exgS genes. Further DNA sequencing revealed that this cluster contains the genes for the scaffolding protein CbpA, the exoglucanase ExgS, several endoglucanases of family 9, the mannanase ManA, and the hydrophobic protein HbpA containing a surface layer homology domain and a hydrophobic (or cohesin) domain. The sequence of the clustered genes is cbpA-exgS-engH-engK-hbpA-engL-manA-engM-engN and is about 22 kb in length. The engN gene did not have a complete catalytic domain, indicating that engN is a truncated gene. This large gene cluster is flanked at the 5′ end by a putative noncellulosomal operon consisting of nifV-orf1-sigX-regA and at the 3′ end by noncellulosomal genes with homology to transposase (trp) and malate permease (mle). Since gene clusters for the cellulosome are also found in C. cellulolyticum and C. josui, they seem to be typical of mesophilic clostridia, indicating that the large gene clusters may arise from a common ancestor with some evolutionary modifications.
Clostridium cellulovorans, an anaerobic bacterium, produces a small nonenzymatic protein called HbpA, which has a surface layer homology domain and a type I cohesin domain similar to those found in the cellulosomal scaffolding protein CbpA. In this study, we demonstrated that HbpA could bind to cell wall fragments from C. cellulovorans and insoluble polysaccharides and form a complex with cellulosomal cellulases endoglucanase B (EngB) and endoglucanase L (EngL). Synergistic degradative action of the cellulosomal cellulase and HbpA complexes was demonstrated on acid-swollen cellulose, Avicel, and corn fiber. We propose that HbpA functions to bind dockerin-containing cellulosomal enzymes to the cell surface and complements the activity of cellulosomes.
The major cellulose-binding domain (CBD) from the cellulosome of Clostridium thermocellum YS was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The expressed protein was purified efficiently by a modification of a novel procedure termed affinity digestion. The properties of the purified polypeptide were compared with those of a related CBD derived from a cellulosome-like complex of a similar (but mesophilic) clostridial species, Clostridium cellulovorans. The binding properties of the two proteins with their common substrate were found to be very similar. Despite the similarity in the amino acid sequences of the two CBDs, polyclonal antibodies raised against the CBD from C. thermocellum failed to interact with the protein from C. cellulovorans. Chemical modification of the single cysteine of the CBD had little effect on the binding to cellulose. Biotinylation of this cysteine allowed the efficient binding of avidin to cellulose, and the resultant matrix is appropriate for use as a universal affinity system.
The enzyme diversity of the cellulolytic system produced by Clostridium cellulolyticum grown on crystalline cellulose as a sole carbon and energy source was explored by two-dimensional electrophoresis. The cellulolytic system of C. cellulolyticum is composed of at least 30 dockerin-containing proteins (designated cellulosomal proteins) and 30 noncellulosomal components. Most of the known cellulosomal proteins, including CipC, Cel48F, Cel8C, Cel9G, Cel9E, Man5K, Cel9M, and Cel5A, were identified by using two-dimensional Western blot analysis with specific antibodies, whereas Cel5N, Cel9J, and Cel44O were identified by using N-terminal sequencing. Unknown enzymes having carboxymethyl cellulase or xylanase activities were detected by zymogram analysis of two-dimensional gels. Some of these enzymes were identified by N-terminal sequencing as homologs of proteins listed in the NCBI database. Using Trap-Dock PCR and DNA walking, seven genes encoding new dockerin-containing proteins were cloned and sequenced. Some of these genes are clustered. Enzymes encoded by these genes belong to glycoside hydrolase families GH2, GH9, GH10, GH26, GH27, and GH59. Except for members of family GH9, which contains only cellulases, the new modular glycoside hydrolases discovered in this work could be involved in the degradation of different hemicellulosic substrates, such as xylan or galactomannan.
The genome sequence of Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824, a noncellulolytic solvent-producing strain, predicts the production of various proteins with domains typical for cellulosomal subunits. Most of the genes coding for these proteins are grouped in a cluster similar to that found in cellulolytic clostridial species, such as Clostridium cellulovorans. CAC0916, one of the open reading frames present in the putative cellulosome gene cluster, codes for CelG, a putative endoglucanase belonging to family 9, and it was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The overproduced CelG protein was purified by making use of its high affinity for cellulose and was characterized. The biochemical properties of the purified CelG were comparable to those of other known enzymes belonging to the same family. Expression of CelG by C. acetobutylicum grown on different substrates was studied by Western blotting by using antibodies raised against the purified E. coli-produced protein. Whereas the antibodies cross-reacted with CelG-like proteins secreted by cellobiose- or cellulose-grown C. cellulovorans cultures, CelG was not detectable in extracellular medium from C. acetobutylicum grown on cellobiose or glucose. However, notably, when lichenan-grown cultures were used, several bands corresponding to CelG or CelG-like proteins were present, and there was significantly increased extracellular endoglucanase activity.
Two genes encoding EngB endoglucanase and mini-CbpA1 scaffolding protein of Clostridium cellulovorans were constructed and coexpressed in Bacillus subtilis WB800. The resulting minicellulosomes were isolated by gel filtration chromatography and characterized. Biochemical and immunological evidence indicated that fraction II contained minicellulosomes consisting of mini-CbpA1 and EngB. The in vivo synthesis of minicellulosomes suggests that it will be possible in the future to insert into B. subtilis cellulosomal genes that will allow growth on cellulosic materials and the production of various designer cellulosomes with specific functions.
The crude culture supernatants from Clostridium cellulovorans were tested for their ability to convert plant cells to protoplasts. The supernatants readily released protoplasts from cultured tobacco cells and Arabidopsis thaliana. The crude culture supernatant from pectin-grown cells was more active than supernatants from glucose-, cellobiose-, xylan-, and locust bean gum-grown cells. After removal of cellulosomes, the crude culture supernatant lost its protoplast formation activity. The protoplast formation activity of the crude culture supernatant from C. cellulovorans was more effective than those of commercial enzymes based on protein content.
Economic feasibility and sustainability of lignocellulosic ethanol production requires the development of robust microorganisms that can efficiently degrade and convert plant biomass to ethanol. The anaerobic thermophilic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate microorganism as it is capable of hydrolyzing cellulose and fermenting the hydrolysis products to ethanol and other metabolites. C. thermocellum achieves efficient cellulose hydrolysis using multiprotein extracellular enzymatic complexes, termed cellulosomes.
In this study, we used quantitative proteomics (multidimensional LC-MS/MS and 15N-metabolic labeling) to measure relative changes in levels of cellulosomal subunit proteins (per CipA scaffoldin basis) when C. thermocellum ATCC 27405 was grown on a variety of carbon sources [dilute-acid pretreated switchgrass, cellobiose, amorphous cellulose, crystalline cellulose (Avicel) and combinations of crystalline cellulose with pectin or xylan or both]. Cellulosome samples isolated from cultures grown on these carbon sources were compared to 15N labeled cellulosome samples isolated from crystalline cellulose-grown cultures. In total from all samples, proteomic analysis identified 59 dockerin- and 8 cohesin-module containing components, including 16 previously undetected cellulosomal subunits. Many cellulosomal components showed differential protein abundance in the presence of non-cellulose substrates in the growth medium. Cellulosome samples from amorphous cellulose, cellobiose and pretreated switchgrass-grown cultures displayed the most distinct differences in composition as compared to cellulosome samples from crystalline cellulose-grown cultures. While Glycoside Hydrolase Family 9 enzymes showed increased levels in the presence of crystalline cellulose, and pretreated switchgrass, in particular, GH5 enzymes showed increased levels in response to the presence of cellulose in general, amorphous or crystalline.
Overall, the quantitative results suggest a coordinated substrate-specific regulation of cellulosomal subunit composition in C. thermocellum to better suit the organism's needs for growth under different conditions. To date, this study provides the most comprehensive comparison of cellulosomal compositional changes in C. thermocellum in response to different carbon sources. Such studies are vital to engineering a strain that is best suited to grow on specific substrates of interest and provide the building blocks for constructing designer cellulosomes with tailored enzyme composition for industrial ethanol production.
CbpA, the scaffolding protein of Clostridium cellulovorans cellulosomes, possesses one family 3 cellulose binding domain, nine cohesin domains, and four hydrophilic domains (HLDs). Among the three types of domains, the function of the HLDs is still unknown. We proposed previously that the HLDs of CbpA play a role in attaching the cellulosome to the cell surface, since they showed some homology to the surface layer homology domains of EngE. Several recombinant proteins with HLDs (rHLDs) and recombinant EngE (rEngE) were examined to determine their binding to the C. cellulovorans cell wall fraction. Tandemly linked rHLDs showed higher affinity for the cell wall than individual rHLDs showed. EngE was shown to have a higher affinity for cell walls than rHLDs have. C. cellulovorans native cellulosomes were found to have higher affinity for cell walls than rHLDs have. When immunoblot analysis was carried out with the native cellulosome fraction bound to cell wall fragments, the presence of EngE was also confirmed, suggesting that the mechanism anchoring CbpA to the C. cellulovorans cell surface was mediated through EngE and that the HLDs play a secondary role in the attachment of the cellulosome to the cell surface. During a study of the role of HLDs on cellulose degradation, the mini-cellulosome complexes with HLDs degraded cellulose more efficiently than complexes without HLDs degraded cellulose. The rHLDs also showed binding affinity for crystalline cellulose and carboxymethyl cellulose. These results suggest that the CbpA HLDs play a major role and a minor role in C. cellulovorans cellulosomes. The primary role increases cellulose degradation activity by binding the cellulosome complex to the cellulose substrate; secondarily, HLDs aid the binding of the CbpA/cellulosome to the C. cellulovorans cell surface.
The cellulosome of Clostridium cellulovorans consists of three major subunits: CbpA, EngE, and ExgS. The C. cellulovorans scaffolding protein (CbpA) contains nine hydrophobic repeated domains (cohesins) for the binding of enzymatic subunits. Cohesin domains are quite homologous, but there are some questions regarding their binding specificity because some of the domains have regions of low-level sequence similarity. Two cohesins which exhibit 60% sequence similarity were investigated for their ability to bind cellulosomal enzymes. Cohesin 1 (Coh1) was found to contain amino acid residues corresponding to amino acids 312 to 453 of CbpA, which contains a total of 1,848 amino acid residues. Coh6 was determined to contain amino acid residues corresponding to residues 1113 to 1254 of CbpA. By genetic construction, these two cohesins were each fused to MalE, producing MalE-Coh1 and MalE-Coh6. The abilities of two fusion proteins to bind to EngE, ExgS, and CbpA were compared. Although MalE-Coh6 could bind EngE and ExgS, little or no binding of the enzymatic subunits was observed with MalE-Coh1. Significantly, the abilities of the two fusion proteins to bind CbpA were similar. The binding of dockerin-containing enzymes to cohesin-containing proteins was suggested as a model for assembly of cellulosomes. In our examination of the role of dockerins, it was also shown that the binding of endoglucanase B (EngB) to CbpA was dependent on the presence of EngB's dockerin. These results suggest that different cohesins may function with differing efficiency and specificity, that cohesins may play some role in the formation of polycellulosomes through Coh-CbpA interactions, and that dockerins play an important role during the interaction of cellulosomal enzymes and cohesins present in CbpA.
We constructed a novel cell surface display system to control the ratio of target proteins on the Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell surface, using two pairs of protein-protein interactions. One protein pair is the Z domain of protein A derived from Staphylococcus aureus and the Fc domain of human immunoglobulin G. The other is the cohesin (Coh) and dockerin (Dock) from the cellulosome of Clostridium cellulovorans. In this proposed displaying system, the scaffolding proteins (fusion proteins of Z and Coh) were displayed on the cell surface by fusing with the 3′ half of α-agglutinin, and the target proteins fused with Fc or Dock were secreted. As a target protein, a recombinant Trichoderma reesei endoglucanase II (EGII) was secreted into the medium and immediately displayed on the yeast cell surface via the Z and Fc domains. Display of EGII on the cell surface was confirmed by hydrolysis of β-glucan as a substrate, and EGII activity was detected in the cell pellet fraction. Finally, two enzymes, EGII and Aspergillus aculeatus β-glucosidase 1, were codisplayed on the cell surface via Z-Fc and Dock-Coh interactions, respectively. As a result, the yeast displaying two enzymes hydrolyzed β-glucan to glucose very well. These results strongly indicated that the proposed strategy, the simultaneous display of two enzymes on the yeast cell surface, was accomplished by quantitatively controlling the display system using affinity binding.
Xylanase activity of Clostridium cellulovorans, an anaerobic, mesophilic, cellulolytic bacterium, was characterized. Most of the activity was secreted into the growth medium when the bacterium was grown on xylan. Furthermore, when the extracellular material was separated into cellulosomal and noncellulosomal fractions, the activity was present in both fractions. Each of these fractions contained at least two major and three minor xylanase activities. In both fractions, the pattern of xylan hydrolysis products was almost identical based on thin-layer chromatography analysis. The major xylanase activities in both fractions were associated with proteins with molecular weights of about 57,000 and 47,000 according to zymogram analyses, and the minor xylanases had molecular weights ranging from 45,000 to 28,000. High α-arabinofuranosidase activity was detected exclusively in the noncellulosomal fraction. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that cellulosomes derived from xylan-, cellobiose-, and cellulose-grown cultures had different subunit compositions. Also, when xylanase activity in the cellulosomes from the xylan-grown cultures was compared with that of cellobiose- and cellulose-grown cultures, the two major xylanases were dramatically increased in the presence of xylan. These results strongly indicated that C. cellulovorans is able to regulate the expression of xylanase activity and to vary the cellulosome composition depending on the growth substrate.
Transcription of the cellulosomal cellulase/hemicellulase genes of Clostridium cellulovorans has been investigated by Northern blot, reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR), primer extension, and S1 nuclease analysis. Northern hybridizations revealed that the cellulosomal cbpA gene cluster is transcribed as polycistronic mRNAs of 8 and 12 kb. The 8-kb mRNA coded for cbpA and exgS, and the 12-kb mRNA coded for cbpA, exgS, engH, and engK. The sizes of the mRNAs were about 3 kb for engE, 1.8 kb for manA, 2.7 kb for xynA, and 4 kb for pelA, indicating monocistronic transcription of these genes. Primer extension and S1 nuclease analysis of C. cellulovorans RNA showed that the transcriptional start sites of cbpA, engE, manA, and hbpA were located 233, 97, 64, and 61 bp upstream from the first nucleotide of each of the respective translation initiation codons. Alignment of the cbpA, engE, manA, and hbpA promoter regions provided evidence for highly conserved sequences that exhibited strong similarity to the σA consensus promoter sequences of gram-positive bacteria.
Clostridium cellulovorans produces a multienzyme cellulose-degrading complex called the cellulosome. In this study, we determined the synergistic effects on crystalline cellulose degradation by three different recombinant cellulosomes containing either endoglucanase EngE, endoglucanase EngH, or exoglucanase ExgS bound to mini-CbpA, a part of scaffolding protein CbpA. EngE, EngH, and ExgS are classified into the glycosyl hydrolase families 5, 9, and 48, respectively. The assembly of ExgS and EngH with mini-CbpA increased the activity against insoluble cellulose 1.5- to 3-fold, although no effects on activity against soluble cellulose were observed. These results indicated that mini-CbpA could help cellulase components degrade insoluble cellulose but not soluble cellulose. The mixture of the cellulosomes containing ExgS and EngH showed higher activity and synergy degrees than the other cellulosome mixtures, indicating the synergistic effect between EngH and ExgS was the most dominant effect among the three mixtures for crystalline cellulose degradation. Reactions were also performed by adding different cellulosomes in a sequential manner. When ExgS was used for the initial reaction followed by EngE and EngH, almost no synergistic effect was observed. On the other hand, when EngE or EngH was used for the first reaction followed by ExgS, synergistic effects were observed. These results indicated that the initial reactions by EngH and/or EngE promoted cellulose degradation by ExgS.
This study is the first to demonstrate the activity of putative cellulosomal protease/peptidase inhibitors (named cyspins) of Clostridium cellulovorans, using the Saccharomyces cerevisiae display system. Cyspins exhibited inhibitory activities against several representative plant proteases. This suggests that these inhibitors protect their microbe and cellulosome from external attack by plant proteases.
The enzymatic activity responsible for crystalline cellulose degradation (Avicelase activity) by a mesophilic clostridium (strain C7) was present in culture supernatant fluid but was not detected in significant amounts in association with whole cells or in disrupted cells. Cells of the mesophilic clostridium lacked cellulosome clusters on their surface and did not adhere to cellulose fibers. The extracellular cellulase system of the mesophilic clostridium was fractionated by Sephracryl S-300 gel filtration, and the fractions were assayed for Avicelase and carboxymethylcellulase activities. The Avicelase activity coincided with an A280 peak that eluted in the 700,000-Mr region. Nondenaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic analysis of the 700,000-Mr fractions showed that Avicelase was present as a multiprotein aggregate that lost the ability to hydrolyze crystalline cellulose when partially dissociated by sodium dodecyl sulfate treatment. Proteins resulting from the partial dissociation of the aggregate retained carboxymethylcellulase activity. An Avicelase-deficient mutant of strain C7 (strain LS), which was not capable of degrading crystalline cellulose, lacked the Avicelase-active 700,000-Mr peak. The results indicated that an extracellular 700,000-Mr multiprotein complex, consisting of at least 15 proteins, is utilized by the mesophilic clostridium for the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose. At least six different endo-1,4-beta-glucanases may be part of the cellulase system of strain C7. Sephacryl S-300 column fractions, corresponding to an A280 peak in the 130,000-Mr region, contained carboxymethylcellulase-active proteins that may serve as precursors for the assembly of the Avicelase-active complex by the mesophilic clostridium.
The cellulosome is a multi-enzyme machine, which plays a key role in the breakdown of plant cell walls in many anaerobic cellulose-degrading microorganisms. Ruminococcus flavefaciens FD-1, a major fiber-degrading bacterium present in the gut of herbivores, has the most intricate cellulosomal organization thus far described. Cellulosome complexes are assembled through high-affinity cohesin-dockerin interactions. More than two-hundred dockerin-containing proteins have been identified in the R. flavefaciens genome, yet the reason for the expansion of these crucial cellulosomal components is yet unknown.
We have explored the full spectrum of 222 dockerin-containing proteins potentially involved in the assembly of cellulosome-like complexes of R. flavefaciens. Bioinformatic analysis of the various dockerin modules showed distinctive conservation patterns within their two Ca2+-binding repeats and their flanking regions. Thus, we established the conceptual framework for six major groups of dockerin types, according to their unique sequence features. Within this framework, the modular architecture of the parent proteins, some of which are multi-functional proteins, was evaluated together with their gene expression levels. Specific dockerin types were found to be associated with selected groups of functional components, such as carbohydrate-binding modules, numerous peptidases, and/or carbohydrate-active enzymes. In addition, members of other dockerin groups were linked to structural proteins, e.g., cohesin-containing proteins, belonging to the scaffoldins.
This report profiles the abundance and sequence diversity of the R. flavefaciens FD-1 dockerins, and provides the molecular basis for future understanding of the potential for a wide array of cohesin-dockerin specificities. Conserved differences between dockerins may be reflected in their stability, function or expression within the context of the parent protein, in response to their role in the rumen environment.