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BEST-L  March 2007

BEST-L March 2007

Subject:

Researchers Identify Triggering Pathway for Enzyme Production in Ethanol-Producing Bacterium

From:

Puneet Dwivedi <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Puneet Dwivedi <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 4 Mar 2007 14:43:51 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Dear All,

I hope many of us will find the following article useful.

Regards

Puneet Dwivedi

PhD Student, SFRC,UF
**************************************************************************************************************************
Researchers
Identify Triggering Pathway for Enzyme Production in Ethanol-Producing
Bacterium
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/03/researchers_ide.html#more
2 March 2007

Researchers at the University of Rochester have for the first time
identified <http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=2803> how genes
responsible for biomass breakdown are turned on in a microorganism that
produces ethanol from biomass.

The findings, published in the *Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences*, could lead to a way to make bacterium break down and ferment
plant biomass efficiently in just one step, rather than the multi-step
process used today.

*This is the first revelation of how a bacterium chooses from its more than
100 enzymes to break down a particular biomass. Once we know how a bacterium
targets a particular type of biomass, we should be able to boost that
process to draw ethanol from biomass far more efficiently that we can today.
*
—Prof. David H. Wu, University of Rochester

The team investigated *Clostridium thermocellum*—an anaerobic, thermophilic,
cellulolytic, and ethanogenic bacterium.* C. thermocellum* has that ability
to turn biomass into ethanol in one step, but is not used at the industrial
scale yet because the process of breaking down the plant's cellulose is much
too inefficient.

The key, Wu surmised, was to find out what enzymes the bacterium uses to
accomplish its feat, and then boost its ability to produce those enzymes.
The bacterium uses more than 100 enzymes, and any of the millions of
combinations of them may be the combination to break down a particular
biomass.

*C. thermocellum* produces low levels of many of its enzymes at any one
time. When the bacterium comes in contact with wood, for instance, a few of
its enzymes break down some of that wood. A product of that tiny reaction is
a sugar called laminaribiose that diffuses into the cell. There it
deactivates a repressor for two genes, which wake up and start pumping out
the two triggers the full production of wood-degrading enzymes CelC and
LicA.
<>Wu's paper shows the first time the triggering pathway for enzyme
production in this bacterium has been revealed, and it was only possible
because C. thermocellum genome was just recently sequenced (on project on
which Wu collaborated with the US Department of Energy).

Wu is now working to re-engineer *C. thermocellum* to express an abundance
of particular genes so it can readily and efficiently produce ethanol from a
particular biomass. He's also continuing the genome-wide search for enzyme
combinations that will degrade and ferment grasses, corn stovers, and even
food waste.

*I don't think this is the revolution that makes ethanol a mainstay, but I
believe this is a part of what will lead to the revolution.*
—David Wu

*Resources*:

   -

   "Induction of the *celC* operon of *Clostridium thermocellum* by
   laminaribiose <http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0700087104v1>";
   Michael Newcomb, Chun-Yu Chen, and J. H. David Wu; *Proc. Natl. Acad.
   Sci. USA*, 10.1073/pnas.0700087104

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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