BETO 2021 Peer Review - Enzyme Engineering and Optimization (EEO)

Research output: NRELPresentation


The FY2020 SOT economic model for the DMR BDO process indicates that the production and use of biomass degrading enzymes represents ~10% of the MFSP of BDO. We are thus working to enhance the performance of the dominant cellulase enzyme, Cel7A. In Fy2018-19, we selected 100 promising genes from the "Cel7A wheel of life" and cloned them into T. reesei using a constitutive promotor. This natural diversity screening resulted in the discovery of several enzymes exhibiting improved characteristics relative to the industry standard Cel7A from T. reesei (Tr). Growth of the transformed host on glucose insured that the Cre1 induced cellulase expression cascade was suppressed, thus enabling purification of the target gene product. The first top performing enzyme found was from P. funiculosum (Pf). Other top performing enzymes were identified from T. aculeatus, T. terrestris, and A. oryzae. Computational modeling predicted the structural subsites responsible for the improvements, which were cloned into the sequence of PfCel7A. The recombinant enzymes were expressed in T. reesei, purified, and tested. Testing was not possible with SOT relevant substrates, so the best-case substrate was used; solids from the DMR process subjected to a novel dilute alkaline wash to remove the "lignin shield." Two chimeric Cel7A enzymes show improved performance (1.2 to 1.35x) relative to PfCel7A, which in turn showed considerable improvement (1.6x) relative to T. reesei Cel7A. These new enzymes have been provided to our industrial partner for evaluation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages45
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2021 Project Peer Review, 8-12, 15-16, and 22-26 March 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2A00-79338


  • biochemical conversion
  • CO2 utilization
  • enzyme loading


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