PerspectiveMicrobiology

No Barriers to Cellulose Breakdown

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1454-1456
DOI: 10.1126/science.1247697

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Summary

One of the most promising routes to sustainably produced liquid fuels is the enzymatic conversion of biomass. Efficient enzymatic conversion of biomass into fermentable sugars requires the concerted action of optimally balanced mixes of glycoside hydrolases and accessory proteins (1, 2). On page 1513 of this issue, Brunecky et al. (3) show that CelA, an unusually large secreted multidomain cellulase from the thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, efficiently breaks down microcrystalline cellulose, outperforming enzymes typically used commercially to break down biomass.