Examining Bioethanol-Producing Ultrastructures with Electron Microscopy and Molecular Dynamics

Sammie Ziegler, Josephine Gruber, Emily Fox, Brandon Knott, Eduardo Romero, Lydia Joubert, Wah Chiu, Yannick Bomble

Research output: NRELPoster


A longstanding goal in the biofuel sector is to increase the efficiency of the circularization of the use of materials (1). One such instance is the degradation of plant material, such as cellulose, and converting it to biofuel via bacterial digestion (2). The bifunctional aldehyde-alcohol dehydrogenase (AdhE) from the anaerobic thermophile C. thermocellum seems to be vital for the production and cellular tolerance of bioethanol; however, it lacks the efficiency to produce ethanol at industry standards (3). Therefore, to understand how C. thermocellum AdhE functions, we used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to obtain a 3.2 A structure of the AdhE complex. When compared to previously published structures from E. coli (4-6), we identified potential regions that control the native conformation of the ultrastructure, as well as located channels that isolate the intermediate aldehyde from the cellular milieu. This high-resolution structure, in combination with molecular dynamics simulations, provides insight into one example of substrate channeling and establishes a basis for future mutagenesis studies.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 42nd Steenbock Symposium, 7-8 June 2022, Madison, Wisconsin

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-2700-82794


  • AdhE
  • bioethanol
  • C. thermocellum
  • cryo-electron microscopy
  • molecular dynamics
  • stimulations
  • structural biology


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