Engineering of Glycoside Hydrolase Family 7 Cellobiohydrolases Directed by Natural Diversity Screening: Article No. 105749

Roman Brunecky, Brandon Knott, Venkataramanan Subramanian, Jeffrey Linger, Gregg Beckham, Antonella Amore, Larry Taylor II, Todd Vander Wall, Vladimir Lunin, Fei Zheng, Mercedes Garrido, Logan Schuster, Emily Fulk, Samuel Farmer, Michael Himmel, Stephen Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein engineering and screening of processive fungal cellobiohydrolases (CBHs) remain challenging due to limited expression hosts, synergy-dependency, and recalcitrant substrates. In particular, GH7 CBHs are a family critically important for the bioeconomy as well as a methodology for improving these and other difficult to engineer enzymes. Here, we target the discovery of highly active natural GH7 CBHs and engineering of variants with improved activity. Using experimentally assayed activities of genome mined CBHs, we applied sequence and structural alignments to top performers to identify key point mutations linked to improved activity. From ~1500 known GH7 sequences, an evolutionarily diverse subset of 57 GH7 CBH genes was expressed in Trichoderma reesei and screened using a multiplexed activity screening assay. Ten catalytically enhanced natural variants were identified, produced, purified, and tested for efficacy using industrially-relevant conditions and substrates. Three key amino acids in CBHs with performance comparable or superior to Penicillium funiculosum Cel7A were identified and combinatorically engineered into P. funiculosum cel7a, expressed in T. reesei, and assayed on lignocellulosic biomass. The top performer generated using this combined approach of natural diversity genome mining, experimental assays, and computational modeling produced a 41% increase in conversion extent over native P. funiculosum Cel7A, a 55% increase over the current industrial standard T. reesei Cel7A, and 10% improvement over Aspergillus oryzae Cel7C, the best natural GH7 CBH previously identified in our laboratory.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-87398


  • cellobiohydrolase
  • cellulase
  • cellulose
  • enzyme improvement
  • genomics
  • protein engineering
  • rational design


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