NREL researchers pinpoint opportunities to engineer enzymes for better biomass conversion

March 27, 2018 |

In Colorado, it was more than 10 years in the making, but when it came to uncovering the secrets of the molecular structure of enzymes, perseverance paid off. By studying and comparing the workhorse cellulose-degrading enzymes of two fungi, researchers from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have pinpointed regions on these enzymes that can be targeted via genetic engineering to help break down cellulose faster.

Newly published in Nature Communications, “Engineering enhanced cellobiohydrolase activity” describes NREL’s long-running study of the fungal cellobiohydrolases (CBHs)—enzymes that use hydrolysis as their main chemistry to degrade cellulose—Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) and Penicillium funiculosum (PfCel7A). Years of meticulous research have yielded big rewards: the team has gained a better understanding of the structure-activity relationships of these enzymes to predict the best places to make changes and improvements.

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Category: Research

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