High-energy-density, green, safe batteries are highly desirable for meeting the rapidly growing needs of portable electronics. The incomplete oxidation of sugars mediated by one or a few enzymes in enzymatic fuel cells suffers from low energy densities and slow reaction rates. Here we show that nearly 24 electrons per glucose unit of maltodextrin can be produced through a synthetic catabolic pathway that comprises 13 enzymes in an air-breathing enzymatic fuel cell. This enzymatic fuel cell is based on non-immobilized enzymes that exhibit a maximum power output of 0.8?mW?cm(-2) and a maximum current density of 6?mA?cm(-2), which are far higher than the values for systems based on immobilized enzymes. Enzymatic fuel cells containing a 15% (wt/v) maltodextrin solution have an energy-storage density of 596?Ah?kg(-1), which is one order of magnitude higher than that of lithium-ion batteries. Sugar-powered biobatteries could serve as next-generation green power sources, particularly for portable electronics.
: Increasing needs of green energy and concerns of climate change are motivating intensive R&D efforts toward the low-cost production of electricity and bioenergy, such as hydrogen, alcohols, and jet fuel, from renewable sugars. Cell-free biosystems for biomanufacturing (CFB2) have been suggested as an emerging platform to replace mainstream microbial fermentation for the cost-effective production of some biocommodities. As compared to whole-cell factories, cell-free biosystems comprised of synthetic enzymatic pathways have numerous advantages, such as high product yield, fast reaction rate, broad reaction condition, easy process control and regulation, tolerance of toxic compound/product, and an unmatched capability of performing unnatural reactions. However, issues pertaining to high costs and low stabilities of enzymes and cofactors as well as compromised optimal conditions for different source enzymes need to be solved before cell-free biosystems are scaled up for biomanufacturing. Here, we review the current status of cell-free technology, update recent advances, and focus on its applications in the production of electricity and bioenergy.
Although intensive efforts have been made to create recombinant cellulolytic microorganisms, real recombinant cellulose-utilizing microorganisms that can produce sufficient secretory active cellulase, hydrolyze cellulose, and utilize released soluble sugars for supporting both cell growth and cellulase synthesis without any other organic nutrient (e.g., yeast extract, peptone, amino acids), are not available. Here we demonstrated that over-expression of Bacillus subtilis endoglucanase BsCel5 enabled B. subtilis to grow on solid cellulosic materials as the sole carbon source for the first time. Furthermore, two-round directed evolution was conducted to increase specific activity of BsCel5 on regenerated amorphous cellulose (RAC) and enhance its expression/secretion level in B. subtilis. To increase lactate yield, the alpha-acetolactate synthase gene (alsS) in the 2,3-butanediol pathway was knocked out. In the chemically defined minimal M9/RAC medium, B. subtilis XZ7(pBscel5-MT2C) strain (?alsS), which expressed a BsCel5 mutant MT2C, was able to hydrolyze RAC with cellulose digestibility of 74% and produced about 3.1g/L lactate with a yield of 60% of the theoretical maximum. When 0.1% (w/v) yeast extract was added in the M9/RAC medium, cellulose digestibility and lactate yield were enhanced to 92% and 63% of the theoretical maximum, respectively. The recombinant industrially safe cellulolytic B. subtilis would be a promising consolidated bioprocessing platform for low-cost production of biocommodities from cellulosic materials.
Clostridium thermocellum cellodextrin phosphorylase (CtCDP), a single-module protein without an apparent carbohydrate-binding module, has reported activities on soluble cellodextrin with a degree of polymerization (DP) from two to five. In this study, CtCDP was first discovered to have weak activities on weakly water-soluble celloheptaose and insoluble regenerated amorphous cellulose (RAC). To enhance its activity on solid cellulosic materials, four cellulose binding modules, e.g., CBM3 (type A) from C. thermocellum CbhA, CBM4-2 (type B) from Rhodothermus marinus Xyn10A, CBM6 (type B) from Cellvibrio mixtus Cel5B, and CBM9-2 (type C) from Thermotoga maritima Xyn10A, were fused to the C terminus of CtCDP. Fusion of any selected CBM with CtCDP did not influence its kinetic parameters on cellobiose but affected the binding and catalytic properties on celloheptaose and RAC differently. Among them, addition of CBM9 to CtCDP resulted in a 2.7-fold increase of catalytic efficiency for degrading celloheptaose. CtCDP-CBM9 exhibited enhanced specific activities over 20% on the short-chain RAC (DP = 14) and more than 50% on the long-chain RAC (DP = 164). The chimeric protein CtCDP-CBM9 would be the first step to construct a cellulose phosphorylase for in vitro hydrogen production from cellulose by synthetic pathway biotransformation (SyPaB).
Different from NAD(P)H regeneration approaches mediated by a single enzyme or a whole-cell microorganism, we demonstrate high-yield generation of NAD(P)H from a renewable biomass sugar--cellobiose through in vitro synthetic enzymatic pathways consisting of 12 purified enzymes and coenzymes. When the NAD(P)H generation system was coupled with its consumption reaction mediated by xylose reductase, the NADPH yield was as high as 11.4 mol NADPH per cellobiose (i.e., 95% of theoretical yield--12 NADPH per glucose unit) in a batch reaction. Consolidation of endothermic reactions and exothermic reactions in one pot results in a very high energy-retaining efficiency of 99.6% from xylose and cellobiose to xylitol. The combination of this high-yield and projected low-cost biohydrogenation and aqueous phase reforming may be important for the production of sulfur-free liquid jet fuel in the future.
The switchgrass (SG) samples pretreated by cellulose solvent- and organic solvent-based lignocellulose fractionation were characterized by enzymatic hydrolysis, substrate accessibility assay, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), cross polarization/magic angle spinning (CP/MAS) (13)C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Glucan digestibility of the pretreated SG was 89% at hour 36 at one filter paper unit of cellulase per gram of glucan. Crystallinity index (CrI) of pure cellulosic materials and SG before and after cellulose solvent-based pretreatment were determined by XRD and NMR. CrI values varied greatly depending on measurement techniques, calculation approaches, and sample drying conditions, suggesting that the effects of CrI data obtained from dried samples on enzymatic hydrolysis of hydrated cellulosic materials should be interpreted with caution. Fast hydrolysis rates and high glucan digestibilities for pretreated SG were mainly attributed to a 16.3-fold increase in cellulose accessibility to cellulase from 0.49 to 8.0?m(2)/g biomass, because the highly ordered hydrogen-bonding networks in cellulose fibers of biomass were broken through cellulose dissolution in a cellulose solvent, as evidenced by CP/MAS (13)C-NMR and FTIR.
Effective hydrolysis of pretreated lignocellulose mediated by cellulase requires an in-depth understanding of cellulase adsorption and desorption. Here we developed a simple method for determining the adsorbed cellulase on cellulosic materials or pretreated lignocellulose, which involves (i) hydrolysis of adsorbed cellulase in the presence of 10 M of NaOH at 121 degrees C for 20 min, and (ii) the ninhydrin assay for the amino acids released from the hydrolyzed cellulase. The major lignocellulosic components (i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin) did not interfere with the ninhydrin assay. A number of cellulase desorption methods were investigated: pH change as well as the use of detergents, high salt solution, and polyhydric alcohols. The pH adjustment to 13.0 and the elution by 72% ethylene glycol at neutral pH were among the most efficient approaches for desorbing the adsorbed cellulase. For the recycling of active cellulase, a modest pH adjustment to 10.0 may be a low-cost viable method to desorb active cellulase. It was found that more than 90% of cellulase for hydrolysis of the pretreated corn stover could be recycled by washing at pH 10.0.
Family 48 glycoside hydrolases (cellobiohydrolases) are among the most important cellulase components for crystalline cellulose hydrolysis mediated by cellulolytic bacteria. Open reading frame (Cphy_3368) of Clostridium phytofermentans ISDg encodes a putative family 48 glycoside hydrolase (CpCel48) with a family 3 cellulose-binding module. CpCel48 was successfully expressed as two soluble intracellular forms with or without a C-terminal His-tag in Escherichia coli and as a secretory active form in Bacillus subtilis. It was found that calcium ion enhanced activity and thermostability of the enzyme. CpCel48 had high activities of 15.1 U micromol(-1) on Avicel and 35.9 U micromol(-1) on regenerated amorphous cellulose (RAC) with cellobiose as a main product and cellotriose and cellotetraose as by-products. By contrast, it had very weak activities on soluble cellulose derivatives (e.g., carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC)) and did not significantly decrease the viscosity of the CMC solution. Cellotetraose was the smallest oligosaccharide substrate for CpCel48. Since processivity is a key characteristic for cellobiohydrolases, the new initial false/right attack model was developed for estimation of processivity by considering the enzymes substrate specificity, the crystalline structure of homologous Cel48 enzymes, and the configuration of cellulose chains. The processivities of CpCel48 on Avicel and RAC were estimated to be approximately 3.5 and 6.0, respectively. Heterologous expression of secretory active cellobiohydrolase in B. subtilis is an important step for developing recombinant cellulolytic B. subtilis strains for low-cost production of advanced biofuels from cellulosic materials in a single step.
The modified cellulose solvent- (concentrated phosphoric acid) and organic solvent- (95% ethanol) based lignocellulose fractionation (COSLIF) was applied to a naturally-dry moso bamboo sample. The biomass dissolution conditions were 50 degrees C, 1 atm for 60 min. Glucan digestibility was 88.2% at an ultra-low cellulase loading of one filter paper unit per gram of glucan. The overall glucose and xylose yields were 86.0% and 82.6%, respectively. COSLIF efficiently destructed bamboos fibril structure, resulting in a approximately 33-fold increase in cellulose accessibility to cellulase (CAC) from 0.27 to 9.14 m(2) per gram of biomass. Cost analysis indicated that a 15-fold decrease in use of costly cellulase would be of importance to decrease overall costs of biomass saccharification when cellulase costs are higher than $0.15 per gallon of cellulosic ethanol.
Liberation of fermentable sugars from recalcitrant biomass is among the most costly steps for emerging cellulosic ethanol production. Here we compared two pretreatment methods (dilute acid, DA, and cellulose solvent and organic solvent lignocellulose fractionation, COSLIF) for corn stover. At a high cellulase loading [15 filter paper units (FPUs) or 12.3 mg cellulase per gram of glucan], glucan digestibilities of the corn stover pretreated by DA and COSLIF were 84% at hour 72 and 97% at hour 24, respectively. At a low cellulase loading (5 FPUs per gram of glucan), digestibility remained as high as 93% at hour 24 for the COSLIF-pretreated corn stover but reached only approximately 60% for the DA-pretreated biomass. Quantitative determinations of total substrate accessibility to cellulase (TSAC), cellulose accessibility to cellulase (CAC), and non-cellulose accessibility to cellulase (NCAC) based on adsorption of a non-hydrolytic recombinant protein TGC were measured for the first time. The COSLIF-pretreated corn stover had a CAC of 11.57 m(2)/g, nearly twice that of the DA-pretreated biomass (5.89 m(2)/g). These results, along with scanning electron microscopy images showing dramatic structural differences between the DA- and COSLIF-pretreated samples, suggest that COSLIF treatment disrupts microfibrillar structures within biomass while DA treatment mainly removes hemicellulose. Under the tested conditions COSLIF treatment breaks down lignocellulose structure more extensively than DA treatment, producing a more enzymatically reactive material with a higher CAC accompanied by faster hydrolysis rates and higher enzymatic digestibility.
Developing feedstock-independent biomass pretreatment would be vital to second generation biorefineries that would fully utilize diverse non-food lignocellulosic biomass resources, decrease transportation costs of low energy density feedstock, and conserve natural biodiversity. Cellulose solvent- and organic solvent-based lignocellulose fractionation (COSLIF) was applied to a variety of feedstocks, including Miscanthus, poplar, their mixture, bagasse, wheat straw, and rice straw. Although non-pretreated biomass samples exhibited a large variation in enzymatic digestibility, the COSLIF-pretreated biomass samples exhibited similar high enzymatic glucan digestibilities and fast hydrolysis rates. Glucan digestibilities of most pretreated feedstocks were ?93% at five filter paper units per gram of glucan. The overall glucose and xylose yields for the Miscanthus:poplar mixture at a weight ratio of 1:2 were 93% and 85%, respectively. These results suggested that COSLIF could be regarded as a feedstock-independent pretreatment suitable for processing diverse feedstocks by adjusting pretreatment residence time only.
A synthetic enzymatic pathway was designed for the deep oxidation of glucose in enzymatic fuel cells (EFCs). Polyphosphate glucokinase converts glucose to glucose-6-phosphate using low-cost, stable polyphosphate rather than costly ATP. Two NAD-dependent dehydrogenases (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase) that were immobilized on the bioanode were responsible for generating two NADH per glucose-6-phosphate (i.e., four electrons were generated per glucose via a diaphorase-vitamin K(3) electron shuttle system at the anode). Additionally, to prolong the enzyme lifetime and increase the power output, all of the recombinant enzymes that originated from thermophiles were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. The maximum power density of the EFC with two dehydrogenases was 0.0203 mW cm(-2) in 10 mM glucose at room temperature, which was 32% higher than that of an EFC with one dehydrogenase, suggesting that the deep oxidation of glucose had occurred. When the temperature was increased to 50°C, the maximum power density increased to 0.322 mW cm(-2), which was approximately eight times higher than that based on mesophilic enzymes at the same temperature. Our results suggest that the deep oxidation of glucose could be achieved by using multiple dehydrogenases in synthetic cascade pathways and that high power output could be achieved by using thermostable enzymes at elevated temperatures.
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