The cellulosome is a complex of cellulosomal proteins bound to scaffolding proteins. This complex is considered the most efficient system for cellulose degradation. Clostridium cellulovorans, which is known to produce cellulosomes, changes the composition of its cellulosomes depending on the growth substrates. However, studies have investigated only cellulosomal proteins; profile changes in noncellulosomal proteins have rarely been examined. In this study, we performed a quantitative proteome analysis of the whole exoproteome of C. cellulovorans, including cellulosomal and noncellulosomal proteins, to illustrate how various substrates are efficiently degraded. C. cellulovorans was cultured with cellobiose, xylan, pectin, or phosphoric acid-swollen cellulose (PASC) as the sole carbon source. PASC was used as a cellulose substrate for more accurate quantitative analysis. Using an isobaric tag method and a liquid chromatography mass spectrometer equipped with a long monolithic silica capillary column, 639 proteins were identified and quantified in all 4 samples. Among these, 79 proteins were involved in saccharification, including 35 cellulosomal and 44 noncellulosomal proteins. We compared protein abundance by spectral count and found that cellulosomal proteins were more abundant than noncellulosomal proteins. Next, we focused on the fold change of the proteins depending on the growth substrates. Drastic changes were observed mainly among the noncellulosomal proteins. These results indicate that cellulosomal proteins were primarily produced to efficiently degrade any substrate and that noncellulosomal proteins were specifically produced to optimize the degradation of a particular substrate. This study highlights the importance of noncellulosomal proteins as well as cellulosomes for the efficient degradation of various substrates.
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.
Clostridium cellulovorans is an anaerobic, cellulolytic bacterium, capable of effectively degrading various types of soft biomass. Its excellent capacity for degradation results from optimization of the composition of the protein complex (cellulosome) and production of non-cellulosomal proteins according to the type of substrates. In this study, we performed a quantitative proteome analysis to determine changes in the extracellular proteins produced by C. cellulovorans for degradation of several types of natural soft biomass. C. cellulovorans was cultured in media containing bagasse, corn germ, rice straw (natural soft biomass), or cellobiose (control). Using an isobaric tag method and a liquid chromatograph equipped with a long monolithic silica capillary column/mass spectrometer, we identified 372 proteins in the culture supernatant. Of these, we focused on 77 saccharification-related proteins of both cellulosomal and non-cellulosomal origins. Statistical analysis showed that 18 of the proteins were specifically produced during degradation of types of natural soft biomass. Interestingly, the protein Clocel_3197 was found and commonly involved in the degradation of every natural soft biomass studied. This protein may perform functions, in addition to its known metabolic functions, that contribute to effective degradation of natural soft biomass.
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Clostridium cellulovorans; Cellulosome; Soft-biomass degradation; Proteome analysis; Monolithic column
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.
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.
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.
Cellulosic waste represents a significant and underutilized carbon source for the biofuel industry. Owing to the recalcitrance of crystalline cellulose to enzymatic degradation, it is necessary to design economical methods of liberating the fermentable sugars required for bioethanol production. One route towards unlocking the potential of cellulosic waste lies in a highly complex class of molecular machines, the cellulosomes. Secreted mainly by anaerobic bacteria, cellulosomes are structurally diverse, cell surface-bound protein assemblies that can contain dozens of catalytic components. The key feature of the cellulosome is its modularity, facilitated by the ultra-high affinity cohesin–dockerin interaction. Due to the enormous number of cohesin and dockerin modules found in a typical cellulolytic organism, a major bottleneck in understanding the biology of cellulosomics is the purification of each cohesin- and dockerin-containing component, prior to analyses of their interaction. As opposed to previous approaches, the present study utilized proteins contained in unpurified whole-cell extracts. This strategy was made possible due to an experimental design that allowed for the relevant proteins to be “purified” via targeted affinity interactions as a function of the binding assay. The approach thus represents a new strategy, appropriate for future medium- to high-throughput screening of whole genomes, to determine the interactions between cohesins and dockerins. We have selected the cellulosome of Acetivibrio cellulolyticus for this work due to its exceptionally complex cellulosome systems and intriguing diversity of its cellulosomal modular components. Containing 41 cohesins and 143 dockerins, A. cellulolyticus has one of the largest number of potential cohesin–dockerin interactions of any organism, and contains unusual and novel cellulosomal features. We have surveyed a representative library of cohesin and dockerin modules spanning the cellulosome’s total cohesin and dockerin sequence diversity, emphasizing the testing of unusual and previously-unknown protein modules. The screen revealed several novel cell-bound cellulosome architectures, thus expanding on those previously known, as well as soluble cellulose systems that are not bound to the bacterial cell surface. This study sets the stage for screening the entire complement of cellulosomal components from A. cellulolyticus and other organisms with large cellulosome systems. The knowledge gained by such efforts brings us closer to understanding the exceptional catalytic abilities of cellulosomes and will allow the use of novel cellulosomal components in artificial assemblies and in enzyme cocktails for sustainable energy-related research programs.
Glycoside hydrolases; Cellulosomes; Cohesin; Dockerin; Cellulases; Biomass degradation; Biofuels; Scaffoldin; Carbohydrate-binding module (CBM)
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
The cellulosomes produced by Clostridium cellulovorans are organized by the specific interactions between the cohesins in the scaffolding proteins and the dockerins of the catalytic components. Using a cohesin biomarker, we identified a cellulosomal enzyme which belongs to the glycosyl hydrolase family 5 and has a domain of unknown function 291 (DUF291) with functions similar to those of the surface layer homology domain in C. cellulovorans. The purified endoglucanase G (EngG) had the highest synergistic degree with exoglucanase (ExgS) in the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose (EngG/ExgS ratio = 3:1; 1.71-fold). To measure the binding affinity of the dockerins in EngG for the cohesins of the main scaffolding protein, a competitive enzyme-linked interaction assay was performed. Competitors, such as ExgS, reduced the percentage of EngG that were bound to the cohesins to less than 20%; the results demonstrated that the cohesins prefer to bind to the common cellulosomal enzymes rather than to EngG. Additionally, in surface plasmon resonance analysis, the dockerin in EngG had a relatively weak affinity (30- to 123-fold) for cohesins compared with the other cellulosomal enzymes. In the cell wall affinity assay, EngG anchored to the cell surfaces of C. cellulovorans using its DUF291 domain. Immunofluorescence microscopy confirmed the cell surface display of the EngG complex. These results indicated that in C. cellulovorans, EngG assemble into both the cellulolytic complex and the cell wall complex to aid in the hydrolysis of cellulose substrates.
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.
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.
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.
Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is reliant on the simultaneous enzyme production, saccharification of biomass, and fermentation of released sugars into valuable products such as butanol. Clostridial species that produce butanol are, however, unable to grow on crystalline cellulose. In contrast, those saccharolytic species that produce predominantly ethanol, such as Clostridium thermocellum and Clostridium cellulolyticum, degrade crystalline cellulose with high efficiency due to their possession of a multienzyme complex termed the cellulosome. This has led to studies directed at endowing butanol-producing species with the genetic potential to produce a cellulosome, albeit by localising the necessary transgenes to unstable autonomous plasmids. Here we have explored the potential of our previously described Allele-Coupled Exchange (ACE) technology for creating strains of the butanol producing species Clostridium acetobutylicum in which the genes encoding the various cellulosome components are stably integrated into the genome.
We used BioBrick2 (BB2) standardised parts to assemble a range of synthetic genes encoding C. thermocellum cellulosomal scaffoldin proteins (CipA variants) and glycoside hydrolases (GHs, Cel8A, Cel9B, Cel48S and Cel9K) as well as synthetic cellulosomal operons that direct the synthesis of Cel8A, Cel9B and a truncated form of CipA. All synthetic genes and operons were integrated into the C. acetobutylicum genome using the recently developed ACE technology. Heterologous protein expression levels and mini-cellulosome self-assembly were assayed by western blot and native PAGE analysis.
We demonstrate the successful expression, secretion and self-assembly of cellulosomal subunits by the recombinant C. acetobutylicum strains, providing a platform for the construction of novel cellulosomes.
Synthetic mini-cellulosomes; Consolidated bioprocessing; Clostridium acetobutylicum
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In cellulosomes produced by Clostridium spp., the high-affinity interaction between the dockerin domain and the cohesin domain is responsible for the assembly of enzymatic subunits into the complex. Thus, heterologous expression of full-length enzymatic subunits containing the dockerin domains and of the scaffolding unit is essential for the in vitro assembly of a “designer” cellulosome, or a recombinant cellulosome with a specific function. We report the preparation of Clostridium cellulovorans recombinant cellulosomes containing the enzymatic subunit EngB and the scaffolding unit, mini-CbpA, containing a cellulose binding domain, a putative cell wall binding domain, and two cohesin units. The full-length EngB containing the dockerin domain was expressed by Bacillus subtilis WB800, which is deficient in eight extracellular proteases, to prevent the proteolytic cleavage of the enzymatic subunit between the catalytic and dockerin domains that was observed in previous attempts to express EngB with Escherichia coli. The assembly of recombinant EngB with the mini-CbpA was confirmed by immunostaining, a cellulose binding experiment, and native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis.
Lignocellulosic biomass, the most abundant polymer on Earth, is typically composed of three major constituents: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The crystallinity of cellulose, hydrophobicity of lignin, and encapsulation of cellulose by the lignin-hemicellulose matrix are three major factors that contribute to the observed recalcitrance of lignocellulose. By means of designer cellulosome technology, we can overcome the recalcitrant properties of lignocellulosic substrates and thus increase the level of native enzymatic degradation. In this context, we have integrated six dockerin-bearing cellulases and xylanases from the highly cellulolytic bacterium, Thermobifida fusca, into a chimeric scaffoldin engineered to bear a cellulose-binding module and the appropriate matching cohesin modules. The resultant hexavalent designer cellulosome represents the most elaborate artificial enzyme composite yet constructed, and the fully functional complex achieved enhanced levels (up to 1.6-fold) of degradation of untreated wheat straw compared to those of the wild-type free enzymes. The action of these designer cellulosomes on wheat straw was 33 to 42% as efficient as the natural cellulosomes of Clostridium thermocellum. In contrast, the reduction of substrate complexity by chemical or biological pretreatment of the substrate removed the advantage of the designer cellulosomes, as the free enzymes displayed higher levels of activity, indicating that enzyme proximity between these selected enzymes was less significant on pretreated substrates. Pretreatment of the substrate caused an increase in activity for all the systems, and the native cellulosome completely converted the substrate into soluble saccharides.
Cellulosic biomass is a potential alternative resource which could satisfy future demands of transportation fuel. However, overcoming the natural lignocellulose recalcitrance remains challenging. Current research and development efforts have concentrated on the efficient cellulose-degrading strategies of cellulosome-producing anaerobic bacteria. Cellulosomes are multienzyme complexes capable of converting the plant cell wall polysaccharides into soluble sugar products en route to biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Using a designer cellulosome approach, we have constructed the largest form of homogeneous artificial cellulosomes reported to date, which bear a total of six different cellulases and xylanases from the highly cellulolytic bacterium Thermobifida fusca. These designer cellulosomes were comparable in size to natural cellulosomes and displayed enhanced synergistic activities compared to their free wild-type enzyme counterparts. Future efforts should be invested to improve these processes to approach or surpass the efficiency of natural cellulosomes for cost-effective production of biofuels.
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 nucleotide sequence of the Clostridium cellulovorans xynB gene, which encodes the XynB xylanase, consists of 1,821 bp and encodes a protein of 607 amino acids with a molecular weight of 65,976. XynB contains a typical N-terminal signal peptide of 29 amino acid residues, followed by a 147-amino-acid sequence that is homologous to the family 4-9 (subfamily 9 in family 4) carbohydrate-binding domain. Downstream of this domain is a family 10 catalytic domain of glycosyl hydrolase. The C terminus separated from the catalytic domain by a short linker sequence contains a dockerin domain responsible for cellulosome assembly. The XynB sequence from mass spectrometry and N-terminal amino acid sequence analyses agreed with that deduced from the nucleotide sequence. XynB was highly active toward xylan, but not active toward carboxymethyl cellulose. The enzyme was optimally active at 40°C and pH 5.0. Northern hybridizations revealed that xynB is transcribed as a monocistronic 1.9-kb mRNA. RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of 5′ cDNA ends by PCR (RLM-5′RACE PCR) analysis of C. cellulovorans RNA identified a single transcriptional start site of xynB located 47 bp upstream from the first nucleotide of the translation initiation codon. Alignment of the xynB promoter region provided evidence for highly conserved sequences that exhibited strong similarity to the σA consensus promoter sequences of gram-positive bacteria. Expression of xynB mRNA increased from early to middle exponential phase and decreased during the early stationary phase when the cells were grown on cellobiose. No alternative promoter was observed by RLM-5′RACE PCR and reverse transcriptase PCR analyses during expression. The analysis of the products from xylan hydrolysis by thin-layer chromatography indicated its endoxylanase activity. The results suggest that XynB is a consistent and major cellulosomal enzyme during growth on cellulose or xylan.
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.