Structure and regulation of the cellulose degradome in Clostridium cellulolyticum

Chenggang Xu, Ranran Huang, Lin Teng, Dongmei Wang, Christopher L. Hemme, Ilya Borovok, Qiang He, Raphael Lamed, Edward A. Bayer, Jizhong Zhou, Jian Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: Many bacteria efficiently degrade lignocellulose yet the underpinning genome-wide metabolic and regulatory networks remain elusive. Here we revealed the "cellulose degradome" for the model mesophilic cellulolytic bacterium Clostridium cellulolyticum ATCC 35319, via an integrated analysis of its complete genome, its transcriptomes under glucose, xylose, cellobiose, cellulose, xylan or corn stover and its extracellular proteomes under glucose, cellobiose or cellulose. Results: Proteins for core metabolic functions, environment sensing, gene regulation and polysaccharide metabolism were enriched in the cellulose degradome. Analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed a "core" set of 48 CAZymes required for degrading cellulose-containing substrates as well as an "accessory" set of 76 CAZymes required for specific non-cellulose substrates. Gene co-expression analysis suggested that Carbon Catabolite Repression (CCR) related regulators sense intracellular glycolytic intermediates and control the core CAZymes that mainly include cellulosomal components, whereas 11 sets of Two-Component Systems (TCSs) respond to availability of extracellular soluble sugars and respectively regulate most of the accessory CAZymes and associated transporters. Surprisingly, under glucose alone, the core cellulases were highly expressed at both transcript and protein levels. Furthermore, glucose enhanced cellulolysis in a dose-dependent manner, via inducing cellulase transcription at low concentrations. Conclusion: A molecular model of cellulose degradome in C. cellulolyticum (Ccel) was proposed, which revealed the substrate-specificity of CAZymes and the transcriptional regulation of core cellulases by CCR where the glucose acts as a CCR inhibitor instead of a trigger. These features represent a distinct environment-sensing strategy for competing while collaborating for cellulose utilization, which can be exploited for process and genetic engineering of microbial cellulolysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


FundersFunder number
China-Israel Joint Research Program
USA National Science Foundation EPSCoREPS-0814361
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China91231205, 31200029


    • Catabolite control proteins
    • CcpA-like
    • Cellulose degradation
    • LacI family
    • Transcription
    • Two-component systems


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