Effects of Lytic Polysaccharide Monooxygenase Oxidation on Cellulose Structure and Binding of Oxidized Cellulose Oligomers to Cellulases

Josh V. Vermaas, Michael F. Crowley, Gregg T. Beckham, Christina M. Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus Citations


In nature, polysaccharide glycosidic bonds are cleaved by hydrolytic enzymes for a vast array of biological functions. Recently, a new class of enzymes that utilize an oxidative mechanism to cleave glycosidic linkages was discovered; these enzymes are called lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMO). These oxidative enzymes are synergistic with cocktails of hydrolytic enzymes and are thought to act primarily on crystalline regions, in turn providing new sites of productive attachment and detachment for processive hydrolytic enzymes. In the case of cellulose, the homopolymer of β-1,4-d-glucose, enzymatic oxidation occurs at either the reducing end or the nonreducing end of glucose, depending on enzymatic specificity, and results in the generation of oxidized chemical substituents at polymer chain ends. LPMO oxidation of cellulose is thought to produce either a lactone at the reducing end of glucose that can spontaneously or enzymatically convert to aldonic acid or 4-keto-aldose at the nonreducing end that may further oxidize to a geminal diol. Here, we use molecular simulation to examine the effect of oxidation on the structure of crystalline cellulose. The simulations highlight variations in behaviors depending on the chemical identity of the oxidized species and its location within the cellulose fibril, as different oxidized species introduce steric effects that disrupt local crystallinity and in some cases reduce the work needed for polymer decrystallization. Reducing-end oxidations are easiest to decrystallize when located at the end of the fibril, whereas nonreducing end oxidations readily decrystallize from internal cleavage sites despite their lower solvent accessibility. The differential in decrystallization free energy suggests a molecular mechanism consistent with experimentally observed LPMO/cellobiohydrolase synergy. Additionally, the soluble oxidized cellobiose products released by hydrolytic cellulases may bind to the active sites of cellulases with different affinities relative to cellobiose itself, which potentially affects hydrolytic turnover through product inhibition. To examine the effect of oxidation on cello-oligomer binding, we use thermodynamic integration to compute the relative change in binding free energy between the hydrolyzed and oxidized products in the active site of Family 7 and Family 6 processive glycoside hydrolases, Trichoderma reesei Cel7A and Cel6A, which are key industrial cellulases and commonly used model systems for fungal cellulases. Our results suggest that the equilibrium between the two reducing end oxidized products, favoring the linear aldonic acid, may increase product inhibition, which would in turn reduce processive substrate turnover. In the case of LMPO action at the nonreducing end, oxidation appears to lower affinity with the nonreducing end specific cellulase, reducing product inhibition and potentially promoting processive cellulose turnover. Overall, this suggests that oxidation of recalcitrant polysaccharides by LPMOs accelerates degradation not only by increasing the concentration of chain termini but also by reducing decrystallization work, and that product inhibition may be somewhat reduced as a result.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6129-6143
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-70390


  • cellulases
  • crystalline cellulose
  • oxidation
  • structure


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