The bacterial cellulosome is an extracellular, multi-enzyme machinery, which efficiently depolymerizes plant biomass by degrading plant cell wall polysaccharides. Several cellulolytic bacteria have evolved various elaborate modular architectures of active cellulosomes. We present here a genome-wide analysis of a dozen mesophilic clostridia species, including both well-studied and yet-undescribed cellulosome-producing bacteria. We first report here, the presence of cellulosomal elements, thus expanding our knowledge regarding the prevalence of the cellulosomal paradigm in nature. We explored the genomic organization of key cellulosome components by comparing the cellulosomal gene clusters in each bacterial species, and the conserved sequence features of the specific cellulosomal modules (cohesins and dockerins), on the background of their phylogenetic relationship. Additionally, we performed comparative analyses of the species-specific repertoire of carbohydrate-degrading enzymes for each of the clostridial species, and classified each cellulosomal enzyme into a specific CAZy family, thus indicating their putative enzymatic activity (e.g., cellulases, hemicellulases, and pectinases). Our work provides, for this large group of bacteria, a broad overview of the blueprints of their multi-component cellulosomal complexes. The high similarity of their scaffoldin clusters and dockerin-based recognition residues suggests a common ancestor, and/or extensive horizontal gene transfer, and potential cross-species recognition. In addition, the sporadic spatial organization of the numerous dockerin-containing genes in several of the genomes, suggests the importance of the cellulosome paradigm in the given bacterial species. The information gained in this work may be utilized directly or developed further by genetically engineering and optimizing designer cellulosome systems for enhanced biotechnological biomass deconstruction and biofuel production.
- Glycoside hydrolases