Abstract

Cellobiohydrolases (CBHs) from glycoside hydrolase family 6 (GH6) make up an important part of the secretome in many cellulolytic fungi. They are also of technical interest, particularly because they are part of the enzyme cocktails that are used for the industrial breakdown of lignocellulosic biomass. Nevertheless, functional studies of GH6 CBHs are scarce and focused on a few model enzymes. To elucidate functional breadth among GH6 CBHs, we conducted a comparative biochemical study of seven GH6 CBHs originating from fungi living in different habitats, in addition to one enzyme variant. The enzyme sequences were investigated by phylogenetic analyses to ensure that they were not closely related phylogenetically. The selected enzymes were all heterologously expressed in Aspergillus oryzae, purified and thoroughly characterized biochemically. This approach allowed direct comparisons of functional data, and the results revealed substantial variability. For example, the adsorption capacity on cellulose spanned two orders of magnitude and kinetic parameters, derived from two independent steady-state methods also varied significantly. While the different functional parameters covered wide ranges, they were not independent since they changed in parallel between two poles. One pole was characterized by strong substrate interactions, high adsorption capacity and low turnover number while the other showed weak substrate interactions, poor adsorption and high turnover. The investigated enzymes essentially defined a continuum between these two opposites, and this scaling of functional parameters raises interesting questions regarding functional plasticity and evolution of GH6 CBHs.

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