Cellulosomes from Clostridium thermocellum

Raphael Lamed, Edward A. Bayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomass in the form of cellulose is the major constituent of plant matter, thereby comprising the earth's most abundant natural organic resource. Although the repeating unit of this biopolymer is a simple disaccharide (cellobiose), cellulose fibrils are organized into a complicated paracrystalline state. Due to the structural complexity thus formed, a single enzyme cannot degrade the substrate, and microorganisms that successfully grow on cellulose do so by producing a collection of different cellulases (endo- and exoglucanases) that act synergistically. One of the most effective microbial cellulolytic systems is produced by the anaerobic thermophilic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum. The major enzymes responsible for cellulose degradation in C. thermocellum are arranged into a distinct multisubunit complex that is called the cellulosome. The cellulosome appears both in an extracellular form and in a cell-associated form. This chapter describes the assay method and purification procedure of cellulosomes from C therrnocellum. Due to the complicated nature of both the substrate and the enzyme complex, various assays are commonly used to characterize the system; a single assay system would not provide a complete picture as to the nature of the enzyme. In addition to these assays, other cellulase-related activities have been employed to further characterize cellulolytic enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
JournalMethods in Enzymology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1988


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