Homologous Expression of the Caldicellulosiruptor bescii CelA Reveals that the Extracellular Protein is Glycosylated

Yannick Bomble, Todd VanderWall, Michael Himmel, Daehwan Chung, Jenna Young, Joseph Groom, Janet Westpheling

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47 Scopus Citations


Members of the bacterial genus Caldicellulosiruptor are the most thermophilic cellulolytic microbes described with ability to digest lignocellulosic biomass without conventional pretreatment. The cellulolytic ability of different species varies dramatically and correlates with the presence of the multimodular cellulase CelA, which contains both a glycoside hydrolase family 9 endoglucanase and a glycoside hydrolase family 48 exoglucanase known to be synergistic in their activity, connected by three cellulose-binding domains via linker peptides. This architecture exploits the cellulose surface ablation driven by its general cellulase processivity as well as excavates cavities into the surface of the substrate, revealing a novel paradigm for cellulase activity.We recently reported that a deletion of celA in C. bescii had a significant effect on its ability to utilize complex biomass. To analyze the structure and function of CelA and its role in biomass deconstruction, we constructed a new expression vector for C. bescii and were able, for the first time, to express significant quantities of fulllength protein in vivo in the native host. The protein, which contains a Histidine tag, was active and excreted from the cell. Expression of CelA protein with and without its signal sequence allowed comparison of protein retained intracellularly to protein transported extracellularly. Analysis of protein in culture supernatants revealed that the extracellular CelA protein is glycosylated whereas the intracellular CelA is not, suggesting that either protein transport is required for this post-translational modification or that glycosylation is required for protein export. The mechanism and role of protein glycosylation in bacteria is poorly understood and the ability to express CelA in vivo in C. bescii will allow the study of the mechanism of protein glycosylation in this thermophile. It will also allow the study of glycosylation of CelA itself and its role in the structure and function of this important enzyme in biomass deconstruction.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0119508
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-64060


  • cellulases
  • glycoproteins
  • glycosylation
  • plasmid construction
  • protein expression
  • signal peptides
  • uracils
  • vector construction


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