Modeling the minimum enzymatic requirements for optimal cellulose conversion

Den Haan, R. ; Van Zyl, J. M. ; Harms, T. M. ; Van Zyl, W. H. (2013-04)

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

The original publication is available at


Hydrolysis of cellulose is achieved by the synergistic action of endoglucanases, exoglucanases and -glucosidases. Most cellulolytic microorganisms produce a varied array of these enzymes and the relative roles of the components are not easily defined or quantified. In this study we have used partially purified cellulases produced heterologously in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase our understanding of the roles of some of these components. CBH1 (Cel7), CBH2 (Cel6) and EG2 (Cel5) were separately produced in recombinant yeast strains, allowing their isolation free of any contaminating cellulolytic activity. Binary and ternary mixtures of the enzymes at loadings ranging between 3 and 100 mg g-1 Avicel allowed us to illustrate the relative roles of the enzymes and their levels of synergy. A mathematical model was created to simulate the interactions of these enzymes on crystalline cellulose, under both isolated and synergistic conditions. Laboratory results from the various mixtures at a range of loadings of recombinant enzymes allowed refinement of the mathematical model. The model can further be used to predict the optimal synergistic mixes of the enzymes. This information can subsequently be applied to help to determine the minimum protein requirement for complete hydrolysis of cellulose. Such knowledge will be greatly informative for the design of better enzymatic cocktails or processing organisms for the conversion of cellulosic biomass to commodity products.

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