Chapter Three -- Glycosylation of Cellulases: Engineering Better Enzymes for Biofuels

Michael Himmel, Gregg Beckham, Eric Greene, Zhongping Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

43 Scopus Citations


Cellulose in plant cell walls is the largest reservoir of renewable carbon on Earth. The saccharification of cellulose from plant biomass into soluble sugars can be achieved using fungal and bacterial cellulolytic enzymes, cellulases, and further converted into fuels and chemicals. Most fungal cellulases are both N- and O-glycosylated in their native form, yet the consequences of glycosylation on activity and structure are not fully understood. Studying protein glycosylation is challenging as glycans are extremely heterogeneous, stereochemically complex, and glycosylation is not under direct genetic control. Despite these limitations, many studies have begun to unveil the role of cellulase glycosylation, especially in the industrially relevant cellobiohydrolase from Trichoderma reesei, Cel7A. Glycosylation confers many beneficial properties to cellulases including enhanced activity, thermal and proteolytic stability, and structural stabilization. However, glycosylation must be controlled carefully as such positive effects can be dampened or reversed. Encouragingly, methods for the manipulation of glycan structures have been recently reported that employ genetic tuning of glycan-active enzymes expressed from homogeneous and heterologous fungal hosts. Taken together, these studies have enabled new strategies for the exploitation of protein glycosylation for the production of enhanced cellulases for biofuel production.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biochemistry
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 72
EditorsDerek Horton, David C. Baker
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages50
ISBN (Print)9780128021415
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biochemistry
ISSN (Print)0065-2318

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-2700-65608


  • Biofuel
  • Cel7A
  • Cellulase
  • Glycosylation
  • Saccharification


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