Designing chimeric enzymes inspired by fungal cellulosomes
Cellulosomes are synthesized by anaerobic bacteria and fungi to degrade lignocellulose via synergistic action of multiple enzymes fused to a protein scaffold. Through templating key protein domains (cohesin and dockerin), designer cellulosomes have been engineered from bacterial motifs to alter the activity, stability, and degradation efficiency of enzyme complexes. Recently a parts list for fungal cellulosomes from the anaerobic fungi (Neocallimastigomycota) was determined, which revealed sequence divergent fungal cohesin, dockerin, and scaffoldin domains that could be used to expand the available toolbox to synthesize designer cellulosomes. In this work, multi-domain carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) from 3 cellulosome-producing fungi were analyzed to inform the design of chimeric proteins for synthetic cellulosomes inspired by anaerobic fungi. In particular, Piromyces finnis was used as a structural template for chimeric carbohydrate-active enzymes. Recombinant enzymes with retained properties were engineered by combining thermophilic glycosyl hydrolase domains from Thermotoga maritima with dockerin domains from Piromyces finnis. By preserving the protein domain order from P. finnis, chimeric enzymes retained catalytic activity at temperatures over 80 °C and were able to associate with cellulosomes purified from anaerobic fungi. Fungal cellulosomes harbor a wide diversity of glycoside hydrolases, each representing templates for the design of chimeric enzymes. By conserving dockerin domain position within the primary structure of each protein, the activity of both the catalytic domain and dockerin domain was retained in enzyme chimeras. Taken further, the domain positioning inferred from native fungal cellulosome proteins can be used to engineer multi-domain proteins with non-native favorable properties, such as thermostability.