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1.  Discovery and characterization of ionic liquid-tolerant thermophilic cellulases from a switchgrass-adapted microbial community 
Background
The development of advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass will require the use of both efficient pretreatment methods and new biomass-deconstructing enzyme cocktails to generate sugars from lignocellulosic substrates. Certain ionic liquids (ILs) have emerged as a promising class of compounds for biomass pretreatment and have been demonstrated to reduce the recalcitrance of biomass for enzymatic hydrolysis. However, current commercial cellulase cocktails are strongly inhibited by most of the ILs that are effective biomass pretreatment solvents. Fortunately, recent research has shown that IL-tolerant cocktails can be formulated and are functional on lignocellulosic biomass. This study sought to expand the list of known IL-tolerant cellulases to further enable IL-tolerant cocktail development by developing a combined in vitro/in vivo screening pipeline for metagenome-derived genes.
Results
Thirty-seven predicted cellulases derived from a thermophilic switchgrass-adapted microbial community were screened in this study. Eighteen of the twenty-one enzymes that expressed well in E. coli were active in the presence of the IL 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]) concentrations of at least 10% (v/v), with several retaining activity in the presence of 40% (v/v), which is currently the highest reported tolerance to [C2mim][OAc] for any cellulase. In addition, the optimum temperatures of the enzymes ranged from 45 to 95°C and the pH optimum ranged from 5.5 to 7.5, indicating these enzymes can be used to construct cellulase cocktails that function under a broad range of temperature, pH and IL concentrations.
Conclusions
This study characterized in detail twenty-one cellulose-degrading enzymes derived from a thermophilic microbial community and found that 70% of them were [C2mim][OAc]-tolerant. A comparison of optimum temperature and [C2mim][OAc]-tolerance demonstrates that a positive correlation exists between these properties for those enzymes with a optimum temperature >70°C, further strengthening the link between thermotolerance and IL-tolerance for lignocelluolytic glycoside hydrolases.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-7-15
PMCID: PMC3923250  PMID: 24479406
Cellulase; Ionic liquid; Thermophilic; Biofuel
2.  Glycoside Hydrolase Activities of Thermophilic Bacterial Consortia Adapted to Switchgrass ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(16):5804-5812.
Industrial-scale biofuel production requires robust enzymatic cocktails to produce fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. Thermophilic bacterial consortia are a potential source of cellulases and hemicellulases adapted to harsher reaction conditions than commercial fungal enzymes. Compost-derived microbial consortia were adapted to switchgrass at 60°C to develop thermophilic biomass-degrading consortia for detailed studies. Microbial community analysis using small-subunit rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing and short-read metagenomic sequencing demonstrated that thermophilic adaptation to switchgrass resulted in low-diversity bacterial consortia with a high abundance of bacteria related to thermophilic paenibacilli, Rhodothermus marinus, and Thermus thermophilus. At lower abundance, thermophilic Chloroflexi and an uncultivated lineage of the Gemmatimonadetes phylum were observed. Supernatants isolated from these consortia had high levels of xylanase and endoglucanase activities. Compared to commercial enzyme preparations, the endoglucanase enzymes had a higher thermotolerance and were more stable in the presence of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]), an ionic liquid used for biomass pretreatment. The supernatants were used to saccharify [C2mim][OAc]-pretreated switchgrass at elevated temperatures (up to 80°C), demonstrating that these consortia are an excellent source of enzymes for the development of enzymatic cocktails tailored to more extreme reaction conditions.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00032-11
PMCID: PMC3165268  PMID: 21724886
3.  Targeted Discovery of Glycoside Hydrolases from a Switchgrass-Adapted Compost Community 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8812.
Development of cellulosic biofuels from non-food crops is currently an area of intense research interest. Tailoring depolymerizing enzymes to particular feedstocks and pretreatment conditions is one promising avenue of research in this area. Here we added a green-waste compost inoculum to switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and simulated thermophilic composting in a bioreactor to select for a switchgrass-adapted community and to facilitate targeted discovery of glycoside hydrolases. Small-subunit (SSU) rRNA-based community profiles revealed that the microbial community changed dramatically between the initial and switchgrass-adapted compost (SAC) with some bacterial populations being enriched over 20-fold. We obtained 225 Mbp of 454-titanium pyrosequence data from the SAC community and conservatively identified 800 genes encoding glycoside hydrolase domains that were biased toward depolymerizing grass cell wall components. Of these, ∼10% were putative cellulases mostly belonging to families GH5 and GH9. We synthesized two SAC GH9 genes with codon optimization for heterologous expression in Escherichia coli and observed activity for one on carboxymethyl cellulose. The active GH9 enzyme has a temperature optimum of 50°C and pH range of 5.5 to 8 consistent with the composting conditions applied. We demonstrate that microbial communities adapt to switchgrass decomposition using simulated composting condition and that full-length genes can be identified from complex metagenomic sequence data, synthesized and expressed resulting in active enzyme.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008812
PMCID: PMC2809096  PMID: 20098679
4.  Expression of Trichoderma reesei β-Mannanase in Tobacco Chloroplasts and Its Utilization in Lignocellulosic Woody Biomass Hydrolysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29302.
Lignocellulosic ethanol offers a promising alternative to conventional fossil fuels. One among the major limitations in the lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis is unavailability of efficient and environmentally biomass degrading technologies. Plant-based production of these enzymes on large scale offers a cost-effective solution. Cellulases, hemicellulases including mannanases and other accessory enzymes are required for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. β-mannanase catalyzes endo-hydrolysis of the mannan backbone, a major constituent of woody biomass. In this study, the man1 gene encoding β-mannanase was isolated from Trichoderma reesei and expressed via the chloroplast genome. PCR and Southern hybridization analysis confirmed site-specific transgene integration into the tobacco chloroplast genomes and homoplasmy. Transplastomic plants were fertile and set viable seeds. Germination of seeds in the selection medium showed inheritance of transgenes into the progeny without any Mendelian segregation. Expression of endo-β-mannanase for the first time in plants facilitated its characterization for use in enhanced lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis. Gel diffusion assay for endo-β-mannanase showed the zone of clearance confirming functionality of chloroplast-derived mannanase. Endo-β-mannanase expression levels reached up to 25 units per gram of leaf (fresh weight). Chloroplast-derived mannanase had higher temperature stability (40°C to 70°C) and wider pH optima (pH 3.0 to 7.0) than E.coli enzyme extracts. Plant crude extracts showed 6–7 fold higher enzyme activity than E.coli extracts due to the formation of disulfide bonds in chloroplasts, thereby facilitating their direct utilization in enzyme cocktails without any purification. Chloroplast-derived mannanase when added to the enzyme cocktail containing a combination of different plant-derived enzymes yielded 20% more glucose equivalents from pinewood than the cocktail without mannanase. Our results demonstrate that chloroplast-derived mannanase is an important component of enzymatic cocktail for woody biomass hydrolysis and should provide a cost-effective solution for its diverse applications in the biofuel, paper, oil, pharmaceutical, coffee and detergent industries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029302
PMCID: PMC3247253  PMID: 22216240
5.  Proteome-wide systems analysis of a cellulosic biofuel-producing microbe 
We apply mass spectrometry-based ReDi proteomics to quantify the Clostridium phytofermentans proteome during fermentation of cellulosic substrates. ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of an extra and intracellular microbial proteome. When combined with physiological measurements, these methods form a general systems biology strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process.C. phytofermentans expressed more than 100 carbohydrate-active enzymes, of which distinct subsets were upregulated on cellulose and hemicellulose. Numerous extracellular enzymes cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, which are transported into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular carbohydratases. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating alternative glycolytic enzymes to maximize the ATP yield of anaerobic metabolism.During cellulosic fermentation, cells adhered to the substrate and altered metabolic processes such as upregulation of tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. These diverse metabolic changes highlight how a systems approach can identify novel ways to optimize cellulosic fermentation.
Cellulose is the world's most abundant renewable, biological energy source (Leschine, 1995). Microbial fermentation of cellulosic biomass could sustainably provide enough ethanol for 65% of US ground transportation fuel at current levels (Somerville, 2006). However, cellulose in plant biomass is packaged into a crystalline matrix, making biomass deconstruction a key roadblock to using it as a feedstock (Houghton et al, 2006). A promising strategy to overcome biomass recalcitrance is consolidated bioprocessing (Lynd et al, 2002), which uses microbes such as Clostridium phytofermentans to both secrete enzymes to depolymerize biomass and then ferment the resulting hexose and pentose sugars to a biofuel such as ethanol. The C. phytofermentans genome encodes 161 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZy) including 108 glycoside hydrolases spread across 39 families (Cantarel et al, 2009), highlighting the elaborate set of enzymes needed to breakdown different cellulosic polysaccharides. Faced with the complexity of metabolizing biomass, systems biology strategies are needed to comprehensively identify which cellulolytic and metabolic enzymes are used to ferment different cellulosic substrates.
This study presents a systems-level analysis of how C. phytofermentans ferments different cellulosic substrates that incorporates quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics of over 2500 proteins. Protein concentrations within each carbon source treatment were calculated by machine learning-supported spectral counting (Absolute Protein EXpression, APEX) (Lu et al, 2007). Protein levels on hemicellulose and cellulose relative to glucose were determined using reductive methylation (Hsu et al, 2003; Boersema et al, 2009), here called ReDi labeling, to chemically incorporate hydrogen or deuterium isotopes at lysines and N-terminal amines of tryptic peptides. We show that ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of a microbial proteome and can be used to discern extracellular proteins. Further, we combine these quantitative proteomics with detailed measurements of growth, biomass consumption, fermentation product analyses, and electron microscopy. Together, these methods form a general strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process (Figure 1).
We found that fermentation of cellulosic substrates by C. phytofermentans involves secretion of numerous CAZy as well as proteins for binding of extracellular solutes, proteolysis, and motility. The most highly expressed protein in the proteome is a secreted protein that appears to compose a surface layer to support the cell and anchor cell surface proteins, including some enzymes for plant degradation. Once the secreted CAZy cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, they are taken into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular CAZy, enabling more efficient sugar transport, conserving energy by phosphorolytic cleavage, and ensuring the sugar monomers were not available to competing microbes. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating reversible, PPi-dependent glycolytic enzymes, and pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase. The genome encodes seven alcohol dehydrogenases, among which two iron-dependent enzymes are highly expressed and likely facilitate the high ethanol yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in indirect changes such as increased tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis and repression of fatty acid synthesis. We distilled the data into a model showing the highly expressed enzymes enabling efficient cellulosic fermentation by C. phytofermentans (Figure 7). Collectively, these data help understand how bacteria recycle plant biomass works towards enabling the use of plant biomass as a low-cost chemical feedstock.
Fermentation of plant biomass by microbes like Clostridium phytofermentans recycles carbon globally and can make biofuels from inedible feedstocks. We analyzed C. phytofermentans fermenting cellulosic substrates by integrating quantitative mass spectrometry of more than 2500 proteins with measurements of growth, enzyme activities, fermentation products, and electron microscopy. Absolute protein concentrations were estimated using Absolute Protein EXpression (APEX); relative changes between treatments were quantified with chemical stable isotope labeling by reductive dimethylation (ReDi). We identified the different combinations of carbohydratases used to degrade cellulose and hemicellulose, many of which were secreted based on quantification of supernatant proteins, as well as the repertoires of glycolytic enzymes and alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) enabling ethanol production at near maximal yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in diverse changes such as increased expression of tryptophan synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. This study gives a systems-level understanding of how this microbe ferments biomass and provides a rational, empirical basis to identify engineering targets for industrial cellulosic fermentation.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.116
PMCID: PMC3049413  PMID: 21245846
bioenergy; clostridium; proteomics
6.  Hemicellulases and auxiliary enzymes for improved conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to monosaccharides 
Background
High enzyme loading is a major economic bottleneck for the commercial processing of pretreated lignocellulosic biomass to produce fermentable sugars. Optimizing the enzyme cocktail for specific types of pretreated biomass allows for a significant reduction in enzyme loading without sacrificing hydrolysis yield. This is especially important for alkaline pretreatments such as Ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) pretreated corn stover. Hence, a diverse set of hemicellulases supplemented along with cellulases is necessary for high recovery of monosaccharides.
Results
The core fungal cellulases in the optimal cocktail include cellobiohydrolase I [CBH I; glycoside hydrolase (GH) family 7A], cellobiohydrolase II (CBH II; GH family 6A), endoglucanase I (EG I; GH family 7B) and β-glucosidase (βG; GH family 3). Hemicellulases tested along with the core cellulases include xylanases (LX1, GH family 10; LX2, GH family 10; LX3, GH family 10; LX4, GH family 11; LX5, GH family 10; LX6, GH family 10), β-xylosidase (LβX; GH family 52), α-arabinofuranosidase (LArb, GH family 51) and α-glucuronidase (LαGl, GH family 67) that were cloned, expressed and/or purified from different bacterial sources. Different combinations of these enzymes were tested using a high-throughput microplate based 24 h hydrolysis assay. Both family 10 (LX3) and family 11 (LX4) xylanases were found to most efficiently hydrolyze AFEX pretreated corn stover in a synergistic manner. The optimal mass ratio of xylanases (LX3 and LX4) to cellulases (CBH I, CBH II and EG I) is 25:75. LβX (0.6 mg/g glucan) is crucial to obtaining monomeric xylose (54% xylose yield), while LArb (0.6 mg/g glucan) and LαGl (0.8 mg/g glucan) can both further increase xylose yield by an additional 20%. Compared with Accellerase 1000, a purified cocktail of cellulases supplemented with accessory hemicellulases will not only increase both glucose and xylose yields but will also decrease the total enzyme loading needed for equivalent yields.
Conclusions
A diverse set of accessory hemicellulases was found necessary to enhance the synergistic action of cellulases hydrolysing AFEX pretreated corn stover. High glucose (around 80%) and xylose (around 70%) yields were achieved with a moderate enzyme loading (~20 mg protein/g glucan) using an in-house developed cocktail compared to commercial enzymes.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-4-5
PMCID: PMC3056733  PMID: 21342516
7.  Metagenomic Insights into the Fibrolytic Microbiome in Yak Rumen 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40430.
The rumen hosts one of the most efficient microbial systems for degrading plant cell walls, yet the predominant cellulolytic proteins and fibrolytic mechanism(s) remain elusive. Here we investigated the cellulolytic microbiome of the yak rumen by using a combination of metagenome-based and bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based functional screening approaches. Totally 223 fibrolytic BAC clones were pyrosequenced and 10,070 ORFs were identified. Among them 150 were annotated as the glycoside hydrolase (GH) genes for fibrolytic proteins, and the majority (69%) of them were clustered or linked with genes encoding related functions. Among the 35 fibrolytic contigs of >10 Kb in length, 25 were derived from Bacteroidetes and four from Firmicutes. Coverage analysis indicated that the fibrolytic genes on most Bacteroidetes-contigs were abundantly represented in the metagenomic sequences, and they were frequently linked with genes encoding SusC/SusD-type outer-membrane proteins. GH5, GH9, and GH10 cellulase/hemicellulase genes were predominant, but no GH48 exocellulase gene was found. Most (85%) of the cellulase and hemicellulase proteins possessed a signal peptide; only a few carried carbohydrate-binding modules, and no cellulosomal domains were detected. These findings suggest that the SucC/SucD-involving mechanism, instead of one based on cellulosomes or the free-enzyme system, serves a major role in lignocellulose degradation in yak rumen. Genes encoding an endoglucanase of a novel GH5 subfamily occurred frequently in the metagenome, and the recombinant proteins encoded by the genes displayed moderate Avicelase in addition to endoglucanase activities, suggesting their important contribution to lignocellulose degradation in the exocellulase-scarce rumen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040430
PMCID: PMC3396655  PMID: 22808161
8.  Thermoascus aurantiacus is a promising source of enzymes for biomass deconstruction under thermophilic conditions 
Background
Thermophilic fungi have attracted increased interest for their ability to secrete enzymes that deconstruct biomass at high temperatures. However, development of thermophilic fungi as enzyme producers for biomass deconstruction has not been thoroughly investigated. Comparing the enzymatic activities of thermophilic fungal strains that grow on targeted biomass feedstocks has the potential to identify promising candidates for strain development. Thielavia terrestris and Thermoascus aurantiacus were chosen for characterization based on literature precedents.
Results
Thermoascus aurantiacus and Thielavia terrestris were cultivated on various biomass substrates and culture supernatants assayed for glycoside hydrolase activities. Supernatants from both cultures possessed comparable glycoside hydrolase activities when incubated with artificial biomass substrates. In contrast, saccharifications of ionic liquid pretreated switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) revealed that T. aurantiacus enzymes released more glucose than T. terrestris enzymes over a range of protein mass loadings and temperatures. Temperature-dependent saccharifications demonstrated that the T. aurantiacus proteins retained higher levels of activity compared to a commercial enzyme mixture sold by Novozymes, Cellic CTec2, at elevated temperatures. Enzymes secreted by T. aurantiacus released glucose at similar protein loadings to CTec2 on dilute acid, ammonia fiber expansion, or ionic liquid pretreated switchgrass. Proteomic analysis of the T. aurantiacus culture supernatant revealed dominant glycoside hydrolases from families 5, 7, 10, and 61, proteins that are key enzymes in commercial cocktails.
Conclusions
T. aurantiacus produces a complement of secreted proteins capable of higher levels of saccharification of pretreated switchgrass than T. terrestris enzymes. The T. aurantiacus enzymatic cocktail performs at the same level as commercially available enzymatic cocktail for biomass deconstruction, without strain development or genetic modifications. Therefore, T. aurantiacus provides an excellent platform to develop a thermophilic fungal system for enzyme production for the conversion of biomass to biofuels.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-5-54
PMCID: PMC3507748  PMID: 22839529
Thermoascus aurantiacus; Thielavia terrestris; GH 61; Polysaccharide monooxygenases; Fungal secretome; Ammonia fiber expansion; Ionic liquid; 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate; Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
9.  Proteogenomic Analysis of a Thermophilic Bacterial Consortium Adapted to Deconstruct Switchgrass 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68465.
Thermophilic bacteria are a potential source of enzymes for the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. However, the complement of proteins used to deconstruct biomass and the specific roles of different microbial groups in thermophilic biomass deconstruction are not well-explored. Here we report on the metagenomic and proteogenomic analyses of a compost-derived bacterial consortium adapted to switchgrass at elevated temperature with high levels of glycoside hydrolase activities. Near-complete genomes were reconstructed for the most abundant populations, which included composite genomes for populations closely related to sequenced strains of Thermus thermophilus and Rhodothermus marinus, and for novel populations that are related to thermophilic Paenibacilli and an uncultivated subdivision of the little-studied Gemmatimonadetes phylum. Partial genomes were also reconstructed for a number of lower abundance thermophilic Chloroflexi populations. Identification of genes for lignocellulose processing and metabolic reconstructions suggested Rhodothermus, Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes as key groups for deconstructing biomass, and Thermus as a group that may primarily metabolize low molecular weight compounds. Mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of the consortium was used to identify >3000 proteins in fractionated samples from the cultures, and confirmed the importance of Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes to biomass deconstruction. These studies also indicate that there are unexplored proteins with important roles in bacterial lignocellulose deconstruction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068465
PMCID: PMC3716776  PMID: 23894306
10.  Curation of characterized glycoside hydrolases of Fungal origin 
Fungi produce a wide range of extracellular enzymes to break down plant cell walls, which are composed mainly of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Among them are the glycoside hydrolases (GH), the largest and most diverse family of enzymes active on these substrates. To facilitate research and development of enzymes for the conversion of cell-wall polysaccharides into fermentable sugars, we have manually curated a comprehensive set of characterized fungal glycoside hydrolases. Characterized glycoside hydrolases were retrieved from protein and enzyme databases, as well as literature repositories. A total of 453 characterized glycoside hydrolases have been cataloged. They come from 131 different fungal species, most of which belong to the phylum Ascomycota. These enzymes represent 46 different GH activities and cover 44 of the 115 CAZy GH families. In addition to enzyme source and enzyme family, available biochemical properties such as temperature and pH optima, specific activity, kinetic parameters and substrate specificities were recorded. To simplify comparative studies, enzyme and species abbreviations have been standardized, Gene Ontology terms assigned and reference to supporting evidence provided. The annotated genes have been organized in a searchable, online database called mycoCLAP (Characterized Lignocellulose-Active Proteins of fungal origin). It is anticipated that this manually curated collection of biochemically characterized fungal proteins will be used to enhance functional annotation of novel GH genes.
Database URL: http://mycoCLAP.fungalgenomics.ca/
doi:10.1093/database/bar020
PMCID: PMC3263737  PMID: 21622642
11.  Comparative Genomic Analysis of the Endosymbionts of Herbivorous Insects Reveals Eco-Environmental Adaptations: Biotechnology Applications 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003131.
Metagenome analysis of the gut symbionts of three different insects was conducted as a means of comparing taxonomic and metabolic diversity of gut microbiomes to diet and life history of the insect hosts. A second goal was the discovery of novel biocatalysts for biorefinery applications. Grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts were sequenced and compared with the previously identified metagenome of termite gut microbiota. These insect hosts represent three different insect orders and specialize on different food types. The comparative analysis revealed dramatic differences among the three insect species in the abundance and taxonomic composition of the symbiont populations present in the gut. The composition and abundance of symbionts was correlated with their previously identified capacity to degrade and utilize the different types of food consumed by their hosts. The metabolic reconstruction revealed that the gut metabolome of cutworms and grasshoppers was more enriched for genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and transport than wood-feeding termite, whereas the termite gut metabolome was enriched for glycosyl hydrolase (GH) enzymes relevant to lignocellulosic biomass degradation. Moreover, termite gut metabolome was more enriched with nitrogen fixation genes than those of grasshopper and cutworm gut, presumably due to the termite's adaptation to the high fiber and less nutritious food types. In order to evaluate and exploit the insect symbionts for biotechnology applications, we cloned and further characterized four biomass-degrading enzymes including one endoglucanase and one xylanase from both the grasshopper and cutworm gut symbionts. The results indicated that the grasshopper symbiont enzymes were generally more efficient in biomass degradation than the homologous enzymes from cutworm symbionts. Together, these results demonstrated a correlation between the composition and putative metabolic functionality of the gut microbiome and host diet, and suggested that this relationship could be exploited for the discovery of symbionts and biocatalysts useful for biorefinery applications.
Author Summary
The symbiotic gut microbiome of herbivorous insects is vital for their ability to utilize and specialize on plants with very different nutrient qualities. Moreover, the gut microbiome is a significant resource for the discovery of biocatalysts and microbes with applications to various biotechnologies. We compared the gut symbionts from three different insect species to examine whether there was a relationship between the diversity and metabolic capability of the symbionts and the diet of their hosts, with the goal of using such a relationship for the discovery of biocatalysts for biofuel applications. The study revealed that the metabolic capabilities of the insect gut symbionts correlated with insect adaptation to different food types and life histories at the levels of species, metabolic pathway, and individual gene. Moreover, we showed that the grasshopper cellulase and xylanase enzymes generally exhibited higher activities than those of cutworm, demonstrating differences in capabilities even at the protein level. Together, our findings confirmed our previous research and suggested that the grasshopper might be a good target for biocatalyst discovery due to their high gut cellulytic enzyme activities.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003131
PMCID: PMC3542064  PMID: 23326236
12.  Characterization of a thermostable β-glucosidase from Aspergillus fumigatus Z5, and its functional expression in Pichia pastoris X33 
Background
Recently, the increased demand of energy has strongly stimulated the research on the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into reducing sugars for the subsequent production, and β-glucosidases have been the focus because of their important roles in a variety fundamental biological processes and the synthesis of useful β-glucosides. Although the β-glucosidases of different sources have been investigated, the amount of β-glucosidases are insufficient for effective conversion of cellulose. The goal of this work was to search for new resources of β-glucosidases, which was thermostable and with high catalytic efficiency.
Results
In this study, a thermostable native β-glucosidase (nBgl3), which is secreted by the lignocellulose-decomposing fungus Aspergillus fumigatus Z5, was purified to electrophoretic homogeneity. Internal sequences of nBgl3 were obtained by LC-MS/MS, and its encoding gene, bgl3, was cloned based on the peptide sequences obtained from the LC-MS/MS results. bgl3 contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 2622 bp and encodes a protein with a predicted molecular weight of 91.47 kDa; amino acid sequence analysis of the deduced protein indicated that nBgl3 is a member of the glycoside hydrolase family 3. A recombinant β-glucosidase (rBgl3) was obtained by the functional expression of bgl3 in Pichia pastoris X33. Several biochemical properties of purified nBgl3 and rBgl3 were determined - both enzymes showed optimal activity at pH 6.0 and 60°C, and they were stable for a pH range of 4-7 and a temperature range of 50 to 70°C. Of the substrates tested, nBgl3 and rBgl3 displayed the highest activity toward 4-Nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (pNPG), with specific activities of 103.5 ± 7.1 and 101.7 ± 5.2 U mg-1, respectively. However, these enzymes were inactive toward carboxymethyl cellulose, lactose and xylan.
Conclusions
An native β-glucosidase nBgl3 was purified to electrophoretic homogeneity from the crude extract of A. fumigatus Z5. The gene bgl3 was cloned based on the internal sequences of nBgl3 obtained from the LC-MS/MS results, and the gene bgl3 was expressed in Pichia pastoris X33. The results of various biochemical properties of two enzymes including specific activity, pH stability, thermostability, and kinetic properties (Km and Vmax) indicated that they had no significant differences.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-25
PMCID: PMC3312866  PMID: 22340848
13.  A Thermophilic Ionic Liquid-Tolerant Cellulase Cocktail for the Production of Cellulosic Biofuels 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37010.
Generation of biofuels from sugars in lignocellulosic biomass is a promising alternative to liquid fossil fuels, but efficient and inexpensive bioprocessing configurations must be developed to make this technology commercially viable. One of the major barriers to commercialization is the recalcitrance of plant cell wall polysaccharides to enzymatic hydrolysis. Biomass pretreatment with ionic liquids (ILs) enables efficient saccharification of biomass, but residual ILs inhibit both saccharification and microbial fuel production, requiring extensive washing after IL pretreatment. Pretreatment itself can also produce biomass-derived inhibitory compounds that reduce microbial fuel production. Therefore, there are multiple points in the process from biomass to biofuel production that must be interrogated and optimized to maximize fuel production. Here, we report the development of an IL-tolerant cellulase cocktail by combining thermophilic bacterial glycoside hydrolases produced by a mixed consortia with recombinant glycoside hydrolases. This enzymatic cocktail saccharifies IL-pretreated biomass at higher temperatures and in the presence of much higher IL concentrations than commercial fungal cocktails. Sugars obtained from saccharification of IL-pretreated switchgrass using this cocktail can be converted into biodiesel (fatty acid ethyl-esters or FAEEs) by a metabolically engineered strain of E. coli. During these studies, we found that this biodiesel-producing E. coli strain was sensitive to ILs and inhibitors released by saccharification. This cocktail will enable the development of novel biomass to biofuel bioprocessing configurations that may overcome some of the barriers to production of inexpensive cellulosic biofuels.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037010
PMCID: PMC3359315  PMID: 22649505
14.  Assembly of Xylanases into Designer Cellulosomes Promotes Efficient Hydrolysis of the Xylan Component of a Natural Recalcitrant Cellulosic Substrate 
mBio  2011;2(6):e00233-11.
ABSTRACT
In nature, the complex composition and structure of the plant cell wall pose a barrier to enzymatic degradation. Nevertheless, some anaerobic bacteria have evolved for this purpose an intriguing, highly efficient multienzyme complex, the cellulosome, which contains numerous cellulases and hemicellulases. The rod-like cellulose component of the plant cell wall is embedded in a colloidal blend of hemicelluloses, a major component of which is xylan. In order to enhance enzymatic degradation of the xylan component of a natural complex substrate (wheat straw) and to study the synergistic action among different xylanases, we have employed a variation of the designer cellulosome approach by fabricating a tetravalent complex that includes the three endoxylanases of Thermobifida fusca (Xyn10A, Xyn10B, and Xyn11A) and an Xyl43A β-xylosidase from the same bacterium. Here, we describe the conversion of Xyn10A and Xyl43A to the cellulosomal mode. The incorporation of the Xyl43A enzyme together with the three endoxylanases into a common designer cellulosome served to enhance the level of reducing sugars produced during wheat straw degradation. The enhanced synergistic action of the four xylanases reflected their immediate juxtaposition in the complex, and these tetravalent xylanolytic designer cellulosomes succeeded in degrading significant (~25%) levels of the total xylan component of the wheat straw substrate. The results suggest that the incorporation of xylanases into cellulosome complexes is advantageous for efficient decomposition of recalcitrant cellulosic substrates—a distinction previously reserved for cellulose-degrading enzymes.
IMPORTANCE
Xylanases are important enzymes for our society, due to their variety of industrial applications. Together with cellulases and other glycoside hydrolases, xylanases may also provide cost-effective conversion of plant-derived cellulosic biomass into soluble sugars en route to biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Xylanases are commonly found in multienzyme cellulosome complexes, produced by anaerobic bacteria, which are considered to be among the most efficient systems for degradation of cellulosic biomass. Using a designer cellulosome approach, we have incorporated the entire xylanolytic system of the bacterium Thermobifida fusca into defined artificial cellulosome complexes. The combined action of these designer cellulosomes versus that of the wild-type free xylanase system was then compared. Our data demonstrated that xylanolytic designer cellulosomes displayed enhanced synergistic activities on a natural recalcitrant wheat straw substrate and could thus serve in the development of advanced systems for improved degradation of lignocellulosic material.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00233-11
PMCID: PMC3221603  PMID: 22086489
15.  Cloning and Heterologous Expression of a β-d-Mannosidase (EC 3.2.1.25)-Encoding Gene from Thermobifida fusca TM51 
Thermobifida fusca TM51, a thermophilic actinomycete isolated from composted horse manure, was found to produce a number of lignocellulose-degrading hydrolases, including endoglucanases, exoglucanases, endoxylanases, β-xylosidases, endomannanases, and β-mannosidases, when grown on cellulose or hemicellulose as carbon sources. β-Mannosidases (EC 3.2.1.25), although contributing to the hydrolysis of hemicellulose fractions, such as galacto-mannans, constitute a lesser-known group of the lytic enzyme systems due to their low representation in the proteins secreted by hemicellulolytic microorganisms. An expression library of T. fusca, prepared in Streptomyces lividans TK24, was screened for β-mannosidase activity to clone genes coding for mannosidases. One positive clone was identified, and a β-mannosidase-encoding gene (manB) was isolated. Sequence analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of the putative ManB protein revealed substantial similarity to known mannosidases in family 2 of the glycosyl hydrolase enzymes. The calculated molecular mass of the predicted protein was 94 kDa, with an estimated pI of 4.87. S. lividans was used as heterologous expression host for the putative β-mannosidase gene of T. fusca. The purified gene product obtained from the culture filtrate of S. lividans was then subjected to more-detailed biochemical analysis. Temperature and pH optima of the recombinant enzyme were 53°C and 7.17, respectively. Substrate specificity tests revealed that the enzyme exerts only β-d-mannosidase activity. Its kinetic parameters, determined on para-nitrophenyl β-d-mannopyranoside (pNP-βM) substrate were as follows: Km = 180 μM and Vmax = 5.96 μmol min−1 mg−1; the inhibition constant for mannose was Ki = 5.5 mM. Glucono-lacton had no effect on the enzyme activity. A moderate trans-glycosidase activity was also observed when the enzyme was incubated in the presence of pNP-αM and pNP-βM; under these conditions mannosyl groups were transferred by the enzyme from pNP-βM to pNP-αM resulting in the synthesis of small amounts (1 to 2%) of disaccharides.
doi:10.1128/AEM.69.4.1944-1952.2003
PMCID: PMC154781  PMID: 12676668
16.  Bioprospecting metagenomics of decaying wood: mining for new glycoside hydrolases 
Background
To efficiently deconstruct recalcitrant plant biomass to fermentable sugars in industrial processes, biocatalysts of higher performance and lower cost are required. The genetic diversity found in the metagenomes of natural microbial biomass decay communities may harbor such enzymes. Our goal was to discover and characterize new glycoside hydrolases (GHases) from microbial biomass decay communities, especially those from unknown or never previously cultivated microorganisms.
Results
From the metagenome sequences of an anaerobic microbial community actively decaying poplar biomass, we identified approximately 4,000 GHase homologs. Based on homology to GHase families/activities of interest and the quality of the sequences, candidates were selected for full-length cloning and subsequent expression. As an alternative strategy, a metagenome expression library was constructed and screened for GHase activities. These combined efforts resulted in the cloning of four novel GHases that could be successfully expressed in Escherichia coli. Further characterization showed that two enzymes showed significant activity on p-nitrophenyl-α-L-arabinofuranoside, one enzyme had significant activity against p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, and one enzyme showed significant activity against p-nitrophenyl-β-D-xylopyranoside. Enzymes were also tested in the presence of ionic liquids.
Conclusions
Metagenomics provides a good resource for mining novel biomass degrading enzymes and for screening of cellulolytic enzyme activities. The four GHases that were cloned may have potential application for deconstruction of biomass pretreated with ionic liquids, as they remain active in the presence of up to 20% ionic liquid (except for 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium diethyl phosphate). Alternatively, ionic liquids might be used to immobilize or stabilize these enzymes for minimal solvent processing of biomass.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-4-23
PMCID: PMC3171299  PMID: 21816041
17.  Secretome diversity and quantitative analysis of cellulolytic Aspergillus fumigatus Z5 in the presence of different carbon sources 
Background
Aspergillus fumigatus Z5 has a strong ability to decompose lignocellulose biomass, and its extracellular protein secretion has been reported in earlier studies employing traditional techniques. However, a comprehensive analysis of its secretion in the presence of different carbon sources is still lacking. The goal of this work was to identify, quantify and compare the secretome of A. fumigatus Z5 in the presence of different carbon sources to understand in more details the mechanisms of lignocellulose decomposition by Aspergillus fumigatus Z5.
Results
Cellulolytic A. fumigatus Z5 was grown in the presence of glucose (Gl), Avicel (Av) and rice straw (RS), and the activities of several lignocellulosic enzymes were determined with chromatometry method. The maximum activities of endoglucanase, exoglucanase, β-glucosidase, laminarinase, lichenase, xylanase and pectin lyase were 12.52, 0.59, 2.30, 2.37, 1.68, 15.02 and 11.40 U·ml-1, respectively. A total of 152, 125 and 61 different proteins were identified in the presence of RS, Av and Gl, respectively, and the proteins were functionally divided into glycoside hydrolases, lipases, peptidases, peroxidases, esterases, protein translocating transporters and hypothetical proteins. A total of 49 proteins were iTRAQ-quantified in all the treatments, and the quantification results indicated that most of the cellulases, hemicellulases and glycoside hydrolases were highly upregulated when rice straw and Avicel were used as carbon sources (compared with glucose).
Conclusions
The proteins secreted from A. fumigatus Z5 in the present of different carbon source conditions were identified by LC-MS/MS and quantified by iTRAQ-based quantitative proteomics. The results indicated that A. fumigatus Z5 could produce considerable cellulose-, hemicellulose-, pectin- and lignin-degrading enzymes that are valuable for the lignocellulosic bioenergy industry.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-149
PMCID: PMC3853031  PMID: 24131596
Lignocellulase; Secretome; Aspergillus fumigatus; LC-MS/MS; iTRAQ
18.  Tracking dynamics of plant biomass composting by changes in substrate structure, microbial community, and enzyme activity 
Background
Understanding the dynamics of the microbial communities that, along with their secreted enzymes, are involved in the natural process of biomass composting may hold the key to breaking the major bottleneck in biomass-to-biofuels conversion technology, which is the still-costly deconstruction of polymeric biomass carbohydrates to fermentable sugars.
However, the complexity of both the structure of plant biomass and its counterpart microbial degradation communities makes it difficult to investigate the composting process.
Results
In this study, a composter was set up with a mix of yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) wood-chips and mown lawn grass clippings (85:15 in dry-weight) and used as a model system. The microbial rDNA abundance data obtained from analyzing weekly-withdrawn composted samples suggested population-shifts from bacteria-dominated to fungus-dominated communities. Further analyses by an array of optical microscopic, transcriptional and enzyme-activity techniques yielded correlated results, suggesting that such population shifts occurred along with early removal of hemicellulose followed by attack on the consequently uncovered cellulose as the composting progressed.
Conclusion
The observed shifts in dominance by representative microbial groups, along with the observed different patterns in the gene expression and enzymatic activities between cellulases, hemicellulases, and ligninases during the composting process, provide new perspectives for biomass-derived biotechnology such as consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) and solid-state fermentation for the production of cellulolytic enzymes and biofuels.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-5-20
PMCID: PMC3384452  PMID: 22490508
Compost; Plant biomass; Yellow poplar; Microbial community; Microbial rDNA abundance; Gene expression; Enzymatic activity; Cellulase; Hemicellulose; Ligninase; Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP); Solid-state fermentation; Biofuels
19.  Screening of candidate regulators for cellulase and hemicellulase production in Trichoderma reesei and identification of a factor essential for cellulase production 
Background
The soft rot ascomycetal fungus Trichoderma reesei is utilized for industrial production of secreted enzymes, especially lignocellulose degrading enzymes. T. reesei uses several different enzymes for the degradation of plant cell wall-derived material, including 9 characterized cellulases, 15 characterized hemicellulases and at least 42 genes predicted to encode cellulolytic or hemicellulolytic activities. Production of cellulases and hemicellulases is modulated by environmental and physiological conditions. Several regulators affecting the expression of cellulase and hemicellulase genes have been identified but more factors still unknown are believed to be present in the genome of T. reesei.
Results
We have used transcriptional profiling data from T. reesei cultures in which cellulase/hemicellulase production was induced by the addition of different lignocellulose-derived materials to identify putative novel regulators for cellulase and hemicellulase genes. Based on this induction data, supplemented with other published genome-wide data on different protein production conditions, 28 candidate regulatory genes were selected for further studies and they were overexpressed in T. reesei. Overexpression of seven genes led to at least 1.5-fold increased production of cellulase and/or xylanase activity in the modified strains as compared to the parental strain. Deletion of gene 77513, here designated as ace3, was found to be detrimental for cellulase production and for the expression of several cellulase genes studied. This deletion also significantly reduced xylanase activity and expression of xylan-degrading enzyme genes. Furthermore, our data revealed the presence of co-regulated chromosomal regions containing carbohydrate-active enzyme genes and candidate regulatory genes.
Conclusions
Transcriptional profiling results from glycoside hydrolase induction experiments combined with a previous study of specific protein production conditions was shown to be an effective method for finding novel candidate regulatory genes affecting the production of cellulases and hemicellulases. Recombinant strains with improved cellulase and/or xylanase production properties were constructed, and a gene essential for cellulase gene expression was found. In addition, more evidence was gained on the chromatin level regional regulation of carbohydrate-active enzyme gene expression.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-7-14
PMCID: PMC3922861  PMID: 24472375
Carbohydrate active enzymes; Cellulase; Co-regulation; Gene regulation; Hemicellulase; Transcription factors; Transcriptional profiling
20.  Functional characterization and target discovery of glycoside hydrolases from the digestome of the lower termite Coptotermes gestroi 
Background
Lignocellulosic materials have been moved towards the forefront of the biofuel industry as a sustainable resource. However, saccharification and the production of bioproducts derived from plant cell wall biomass are complex and lengthy processes. The understanding of termite gut biology and feeding strategies may improve the current state of biomass conversion technology and bioproduct production.
Results
The study herein shows comprehensive functional characterization of crude body extracts from Coptotermes gestroi along with global proteomic analysis of the termite's digestome, targeting the identification of glycoside hydrolases and accessory proteins responsible for plant biomass conversion. The crude protein extract from C. gestroi was enzymatically efficient over a broad pH range on a series of natural polysaccharides, formed by glucose-, xylose-, mannan- and/or arabinose-containing polymers, linked by various types of glycosidic bonds, as well as ramification types. Our proteomic approach successfully identified a large number of relevant polypeptides in the C. gestroi digestome. A total of 55 different proteins were identified and classified into 29 CAZy families. Based on the total number of peptides identified, the majority of components found in the C. gestroi digestome were cellulose-degrading enzymes. Xylanolytic enzymes, mannan- hydrolytic enzymes, pectinases and starch-degrading and debranching enzymes were also identified. Our strategy enabled validation of liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry recognized proteins, by enzymatic functional assays and by following the degradation products of specific 8-amino-1,3,6-pyrenetrisulfonic acid labeled oligosaccharides through capillary zone electrophoresis.
Conclusions
Here we describe the first global study on the enzymatic repertoire involved in plant polysaccharide degradation by the lower termite C. gestroi. The biochemical characterization of whole body termite extracts evidenced their ability to cleave all types of glycosidic bonds present in plant polysaccharides. The comprehensive proteomic analysis, revealed a complete collection of hydrolytic enzymes including cellulases (GH1, GH3, GH5, GH7, GH9 and CBM 6), hemicellulases (GH2, GH10, GH11, GH16, GH43 and CBM 27) and pectinases (GH28 and GH29).
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-4-50
PMCID: PMC3285041  PMID: 22081966
21.  Genome-wide transcriptional response of Trichoderma reesei to lignocellulose using RNA sequencing and comparison with Aspergillus niger 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:541.
Background
A major part of second generation biofuel production is the enzymatic saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. Many fungi produce enzymes that can saccarify lignocellulose and cocktails from several fungi, including well-studied species such as Trichoderma reesei and Aspergillus niger, are available commercially for this process. Such commercially-available enzyme cocktails are not necessarily representative of the array of enzymes used by the fungi themselves when faced with a complex lignocellulosic material. The global induction of genes in response to exposure of T. reesei to wheat straw was explored using RNA-seq and compared to published RNA-seq data and model of how A. niger senses and responds to wheat straw.
Results
In T. reesei, levels of transcript that encode known and predicted cell-wall degrading enzymes were very high after 24 h exposure to straw (approximately 13% of the total mRNA) but were less than recorded in A. niger (approximately 19% of the total mRNA). Closer analysis revealed that enzymes from the same glycoside hydrolase families but different carbohydrate esterase and polysaccharide lyase families were up-regulated in both organisms. Accessory proteins which have been hypothesised to possibly have a role in enhancing carbohydrate deconstruction in A. niger were also uncovered in T. reesei and categories of enzymes induced were in general similar to those in A. niger. Similarly to A. niger, antisense transcripts are present in T. reesei and their expression is regulated by the growth condition.
Conclusions
T. reesei uses a similar array of enzymes, for the deconstruction of a solid lignocellulosic substrate, to A. niger. This suggests a conserved strategy towards lignocellulose degradation in both saprobic fungi. This study provides a basis for further analysis and characterisation of genes shown to be highly induced in the presence of a lignocellulosic substrate. The data will help to elucidate the mechanism of solid substrate recognition and subsequent degradation by T. reesei and provide information which could prove useful for efficient production of second generation biofuels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-541
PMCID: PMC3750697  PMID: 24060058
Trichoderma reesei; Aspergillus niger; Glycoside hydrolases; Carbohydrate esterases; Antisense RNA; RNA-sequencing
22.  A novel highly thermostable xylanase stimulated by Ca2+ from Thermotoga thermarum: cloning, expression and characterization 
Background
Xylanase is an important component of hemicellulase enzyme system. Since it plays an important role in the hydrolysis of hemicellulose into xylooligosaccharides (XOs), high thermostable xylanase has been the focus of much recent attention as powerful enzyme as well as in the field of biomass utilization.
Results
A xylanase gene (xyn10A) with 3,474 bp was cloned from the extremely thermophilic bacterium Thermotoga thermarum that encodes a protein containing 1,158 amino acid residues. Based on amino acid sequence homology, hydrophobic cluster and three dimensional structure analyses, it was attested that the xylanase belongs to the glycoside hydrolase (GH) families 10 with five carbohydrate binding domains. When the xylanase gene was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3), the specific enzyme activity of xylanase produced by the recombinant strain was up to 145.8 U mg-1. The xylanase was optimally active at 95°C, pH 7.0. In addition, it exhibited high thermostability over broad range of pH 4.0-8.5 and temperature 55-90°C upon the addition of 5 mM Ca2+. Confirmed by Ion Chromatography System (ICS) analysis, the end products of the hydrolysis of beechwood xylan were xylose, xylobiose, xylotriose, xylotetraose, xylopentaose and xylohexaose.
Conclusions
The xylanase from T. thermarum is one of the hyperthermophilic xylanases that exhibits high thermostability, and thus, is a suitable candidate for generating XOs from cellulosic materials such as agricultural and forestry residues for the uses as prebiotics and precursors for further preparation of furfural and other chemicals.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-26
PMCID: PMC3598563  PMID: 23418789
Xylanase; Xylan; Thermostability; Beechwood; Oat spelt; Birchwood
23.  A Suite of Activity-Based Probes for Cellulose Degrading Enzymes 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2012;134(50):20521-20532.
Microbial glycoside hydrolases play a dominant role in the biochemical conversion of cellulosic biomass to high-value biofuels. Anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria are capable of producing multicomplex catalytic subunits containing cell-adherent cellulases, hemicellulases, xylanases, and other glycoside hydrolases to facilitate the degradation of highly recalcitrant cellulose and other related plant cell wall polysaccharides. Clostridium thermocellum is a cellulosome producing bacterium that couples rapid reproduction rates to highly efficient degradation of crystalline cellulose. Herein, we have developed and applied a suite of difluoromethylphenyl aglycone, N-halogenated glycosylamine, and 2-deoxy-2-fluoroglycoside activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) probes to the direct labeling of the C. thermocellum cellulosomal secretome. These activity-based probes (ABPs) were synthesized with alkynes to harness the utility and multimodal possibilities of click chemistry, and to increase enzyme active site inclusion for LC-MS analysis. We directly analyzed ABP-labeled and unlabeled global MS data, revealing ABP selectivity for glycoside hydrolase (GH) enzymes, in addition to a large collection of integral cellulosome-containing proteins. By identifying reactivity and selectivity profiles for each ABP, we demonstrate our ability to widely profile the functional cellulose degrading machinery of the bacterium. Derivatization of the ABPs, including reactive groups, acetylation of the glycoside binding groups, and mono- and disaccharide binding groups, resulted in considerable variability in protein labeling. Our probe suite is applicable to aerobic and anaerobic microbial cellulose degrading systems, and facilitates a greater understanding of the organismal role associated with biofuel development.
doi:10.1021/ja309790w
PMCID: PMC3538167  PMID: 23176123
24.  Characterization of β-Glucosidase Produced by Aspergillus niger under Solid-State Fermentation and Partially Purified Using MANAE-Agarose 
β-Glucosidase (BGL) is a hydrolytic enzyme with specificity for a wide variety of glycoside substrates, being an enzyme with a large range of biotechnological applications. However, enzyme properties can be different depending both on the microorganism and the cultivation procedure employed. Therefore, in order to explore potential biocatalytical applications of novel enzymes, their characterization is essential. In this work, a BGL synthesized by a selected strain of Aspergillus niger cultivated under solid-state fermentation (SSF) was partially purified and fully characterized in terms of optimum pH, temperature, and thermostability. The single-step purification using MANAE-agarose in a chromatographic column yielded an enzyme solution with specific activity (17.1 IU/mg protein) adequate for the characterization procedures. Electrophoresis SDS-PAGE and size-exclusion chromatography analysis resulted in an estimated molecular mass of 60 kDa. Higher enzyme activities were found in the range between 40 and 65°C and between pH 4 and 5.5, indicating an interesting characteristic for application in the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass for biofuels production. Thermostability studies of purified BGL resulted in half-lives at 37°C of 56.3 h and at 50°C of 5.4 h. These results provide support for further studies of this enzyme towards revealing its potential biotechnological applications.
doi:10.1155/2014/317092
PMCID: PMC3988745  PMID: 24940510
25.  Podospora anserina Hemicellulases Potentiate the Trichoderma reesei Secretome for Saccharification of Lignocellulosic Biomass▿  
To improve the enzymatic hydrolysis (saccharification) of lignocellulosic biomass by Trichoderma reesei, a set of genes encoding putative polysaccharide-degrading enzymes were selected from the coprophilic fungus Podospora anserina using comparative genomics. Five hemicellulase-encoding genes were successfully cloned and expressed as secreted functional proteins in the yeast Pichia pastoris. These novel fungal CAZymes belonging to different glycoside hydrolase families (PaMan5A and PaMan26A mannanases, PaXyn11A xylanase, and PaAbf51A and PaAbf62A arabinofuranosidases) were able to break down their predicted cognate substrates. Although PaMan5A and PaMan26A displayed similar specificities toward a range of mannan substrates, they differed in their end products, suggesting differences in substrate binding. The N-terminal CBM35 module of PaMan26A displayed dual binding specificity toward xylan and mannan. PaXyn11A harboring a C-terminal CBM1 module efficiently degraded wheat arabinoxylan, releasing mainly xylobiose as end product. PaAbf51A and PaAbf62A arabinose-debranching enzymes exhibited differences in activity toward arabinose-containing substrates. Further investigation of the contribution made by each P. anserina auxiliary enzyme to the saccharification of wheat straw and spruce demonstrated that the endo-acting hemicellulases (PaXyn11A, PaMan5A, and PaMan26A) individually supplemented the secretome of the industrial T. reesei CL847 strain. The most striking effect was obtained with PaMan5A that improved the release of total sugars by 28% and of glucose by 18%, using spruce as lignocellulosic substrate.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01761-10
PMCID: PMC3019743  PMID: 21037302

Results 1-25 (1231079)