Predicting Enzyme Adsorption to Lignin Films by Calculating Enzyme Surface Hydrophobicity

Deanne Sammond, John Yarbrough, Yannick Bomble, Sarah Hobdey, Steve Decker, Michael Resch, Michael Himmel, Todd Vinzant, Michael Crowley, Elisabeth Mansfield, Joseph Bozell, Larry Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus Citations


The inhibitory action of lignin on cellulase cocktails is a major challenge to the biological saccharification of plant cell wall polysaccharides. Although the mechanism remains unclear, hydrophobic interactions between enzymes and lignin are hypothesized to drive adsorption. Here we evaluate the role of hydrophobic interactions in enzyme-lignin binding. The hydrophobicity of the enzyme surface was quantified using an estimation of the clustering of nonpolar atoms, identifying potential interaction sites. The adsorption of enzymes to lignin surfaces, measured using the quartz crystal microbalance, correlates to the hydrophobic cluster scores. Further, these results suggest a minimum hydrophobic cluster size for a protein to preferentially adsorb to lignin. The impact of electrostatic contribution was ruled out by comparing the isoelectric point (pI) values to the adsorption of proteins to lignin surfaces. These results demonstrate the ability to predict enzyme-lignin adsorption and could potentially be used to design improved cellulase cocktails, thus lowering the overall cost of biofuel production.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)20960-20969
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-62144


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting Enzyme Adsorption to Lignin Films by Calculating Enzyme Surface Hydrophobicity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this