The bacterial scaffoldin: structure, function and potential applications in the nanosciences.

Shi You Ding*, Raphael Lamed, Edward A. Bayer, Michael E. Himmel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Natural protein complexes may provide the best templates for nanometer-scale technology and new biomaterials. The bacterial cellulosome is becoming a well-understood multi-protein complex found in cellulolytic microorganisms. The scaffoldin subunits of the bacterial cellulosome function to organize and position other protein subunits into the complex. The scaffoldins can also serve as an attachment device for harnessing the cellulosome onto the cell surface and/or for its targeting to substrate. Biochemical and molecular biological evidence have identified a receptor/adaptor type of protein domain pair, called "cohesin and dockerin," which is responsible for cellulosome self-assembly. The recognition between cohesin and dockerin is generally type and/or species specific. More than 80 cohesin and 100 dockerin sequences have been found, mostly from anaerobic bacteria. X-ray crystallography and NMR have been used to determine the three-dimensional structures of representative cohesin and dockerin domains, respectively. The cohesin peptide is about 140 amino acids in length and highly conserved in sequence and domain structure. The dockerin domain comprises about 70 amino acids and contains two 22 amino acid duplicated regions, each of which includes an "F-hand" modification of the EF-hand calcium-binding motif. Biochemical evidence and site-directed mutagenesis have confirmed that the two F-hand motifs are required for function and calcium dependence; at least two amino acids from each motif are critical for cohesin-dockerin recognition. In this report, we review the structure and function of the scaffoldin of the bacterial cellulosome and emphasize a detailed sequence analysis of the cohesin and dockerin domains. We also speculate about potential applications in nanoscience that may be based on cohesin-dockerin recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-225
Number of pages17
JournalGenetic engineering
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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