Lactobacillus plantarum is an attractive candidate for bioprocessing of lignocellulosic biomass due to its high metabolic variability, including its ability to ferment both pentoses and hexoses, as well as its high acid tolerance, a quality often utilized in industrial processes. This bacterium grows naturally on biomass; however, it lacks the inherent ability to deconstruct lignocellulosic substrates. As a first step toward engineering lignocellulose-converting lactobacilli, we have introduced genes coding for a GH6 cellulase and a GH11 xylanase from a highly active cellulolytic bacterium into L. plantarum. For this purpose, we employed the recently developed pSIP vectors for efficient secretion of heterologous proteins. Both enzymes were secreted by L. plantarum at levels estimated at 0.33 nM and 3.3 nM, for the cellulase and xylanase, respectively, in culture at an optical density at 600 nm (OD600) of 1. Transformed cells demonstrated the ability to degrade individually either cellulose or xylan and wheat straw. When mixed together to form a two-strain cell-based consortium secreting both cellulase and xylanase, they exhibited synergistic activity in the overall release of soluble sugar from wheat straw. This result paves the way toward metabolic harnessing of L. plantarum for novel biorefining applications, such as production of ethanol and polylactic acid directly from plant biomass.
Ruminococcus flavefaciens is one of the predominant fiber-degrading bacteria found in the rumen of herbivores. Bioinformatic analysis of the recently sequenced genome indicated that this bacterium produces one of the most intricate cellulosome systems known to date. A distinct ORF, encoding for a multi-modular protein, RflaF_05439, was discovered during mining of the genome sequence. It is composed of two tandem modules of currently undefined function that share 45% identity and a C-terminal X-dockerin modular dyad. Gaining insight into the diversity, architecture and organization of different types of proteins in the cellulosome system is essential for broadening our understanding of a multi-enzyme complex, considered to be one of the most efficient systems for plant cell wall polysaccharide degradation in nature.
Electroendocytosis involves the exposure of cells to pulsed low electric field and is emerging as a complementary method to electroporation for the incorporation of macromolecules into cells. The present study explores the underlying mechanism of electroendocytosis and its dependence on electrochemical byproducts formed at the electrode interface. Cell suspensions were exposed to pulsed low electric field in a partitioned device where cells are spatially restricted relative to the electrodes. The cellular uptake of dextran-FITC was analyzed by flow cytometery and visualized by confocal microscopy. We first show that uptake occurs only in cells adjacent to the anode. The enhanced uptake near the anode is found to depend on electric current density rather than on electric field strength, in the range of 5 to 65 V/cm. Electrochemically produced oxidative species that impose intracellular oxidative stress, do not play any role in the stimulated uptake. An inverse dependence is found between electrically induced uptake and the solutions buffer capacity. Electroendocytosis can be mimicked by chemically acidifying the extracellular solution which promotes the enhanced uptake of dextran polymers and the uptake of plasmid DNA. Electrochemical production of protons at the anode interface is responsible for inducing uptake of macromolecules into cells exposed to a pulsed low electric field. Expanding the understanding of the mechanism involved in electric fields induced drug-delivery into cells, is expected to contribute to clinical therapy applications in the future.
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