Engineering Geobacillus thermodenitrificans to introduce cellulolytic activity; expression of native and heterologous cellulase genes

Martinus J.A. Daas, Bart Nijsse, Antonius H.P. van de Weijer, Bart W.A.J. Groenendaal, Fons Janssen, John van der Oost, Richard van Kranenburg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is a cost-effective approach for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels and biochemicals. The enzymatic conversion of cellulose to glucose requires the synergistic action of three types of enzymes: exoglucanases, endoglucanases and β-glucosidases. The thermophilic, hemicellulolytic Geobacillus thermodenitrificans T12 was shown to harbor desired features for CBP, although it lacks the desired endo and exoglucanases required for the conversion of cellulose. Here, we report the expression of both endoglucanase and exoglucanase encoding genes by G. thermodenitrificans T12, in an initial attempt to express cellulolytic enzymes that complement the enzymatic machinery of this strain. Results: A metagenome screen was performed on 73 G. thermodenitrificans strains using HMM profiles of all known CAZy families that contain endo and/or exoglucanases. Two putative endoglucanases, GE39 and GE40, belonging to glucoside hydrolase family 5 (GH5) were isolated and expressed in both E. coli and G. thermodenitrificans T12. Structure modeling of GE39 revealed a folding similar to a GH5 exo-1,3-β-glucanase from S. cerevisiae. However, we determined GE39 to be a β-xylosidase having pronounced activity towards p-nitrophenyl-β-d-xylopyranoside. Structure modelling of GE40 revealed its protein architecture to be similar to a GH5 endoglucanase from B. halodurans, and its endoglucanase activity was confirmed by enzymatic activity against 2-hydroxyethylcellulose, carboxymethylcellulose and barley β-glucan. Additionally, we introduced expression constructs into T12 containing Geobacillus sp. 70PC53 endoglucanase gene celA and both endoglucanase genes (M1 and M2) from Geobacillus sp. WSUCF1. Finally, we introduced expression constructs into T12 containing the C. thermocellum exoglucanases celK and celS genes and the endoglucanase celC gene. Conclusions: We identified a novel G. thermodenitrificans β-xylosidase (GE39) and a novel endoglucanase (GE40) using a metagenome screen based on multiple HMM profiles. We successfully expressed both genes in E. coli and functionally expressed the GE40 endoglucanase in G. thermodenitrificans T12. Additionally, the heterologous production of active CelK, a C. thermocellum derived exoglucanase, and CelA, a Geobacillus derived endoglucanase, was demonstrated with strain T12. The native hemicellulolytic activity and the heterologous cellulolytic activity described in this research provide a good basis for the further development of G. thermodenitrificans T12 as a host for consolidated bioprocessing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalBMC Biotechnology
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • CBP
  • Cellulase
  • Geobacillus
  • Metagenome
  • β-Xylosidase

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