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Combining strategies speeds the work of enzymes
Date:5/7/2013

use this knowledge to engineer optimal enzyme formulations fast, efficient, single-minded and hungry.

To outmaneuver the plant's survival mechanisms, many microorganisms secrete synergistic cocktails of individual enzymes, with one or several catalytic domains per enzyme. Conversely, some bacteria synthesize large multi-enzyme complexes, called cellulosomes, which contain multiple catalytic units per complex.

While both systems use similar catalytic chemistries, the ways they degrade polysaccharides has been unclear.

NREL researchers found that the free enzymes are more active on pretreated biomass, while the cellulosomes are more active on purified cellulose. Using electron microscopes they found that free enzymes attack the plant cell wall surface by chipping and eroding, helped along by sharpening the thread-like cellulose fibers.

By contrast, the cellulosomes physically separate individual cellulose microfibrils from larger particles to enhance access to the cellulose surfaces. They assemble protein scaffolding to help get the job done.

NREL researchers observed that when the two enzyme systems are combined, the work improves dramatically, likely due to our combining enzymes that evolved naturally, and independently, to do the same job in different ways.


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Contact: David Glickson
david.glickson@nrel.gov
303-275-4097
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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