Designer cellulosomes consist of chimeric cohesin-bearing scaffoldins for the controlled incorporation of recombinant dockerin-containing enzymes. The largest designer cellulosome reported to date is a chimeric scaffoldin that contains 6 cohesins. This scaffoldin represented a technical limit of sorts, since adding another cohesin proved problematic, owing to resultant low expression levels, instability (cleavage) of the scaffoldin polypeptide, and limited numbers of available cohesin-dockerin specificities—the hallmark of designer cellulosomes. Nevertheless, increasing the number of enzymes integrated into designer cellulosomes is critical, in order to further enhance degradation of plant cell wall material. Adaptor scaffoldins comprise an intermediate type of scaffoldin that can both incorporate various enzymes and attach to an additional scaffoldin. Using this strategy, we constructed an efficient form of adaptor scaffoldin that possesses three type I cohesins for enzyme integration, a single type II dockerin for interaction with an additional scaffoldin, and a carbohydrate-binding module for targeting to the cellulosic substrate. In parallel, we designed a hexavalent scaffoldin capable of connecting to the adaptor scaffoldin by the incorporation of an appropriate type II cohesin. The resultant extended designer cellulosome comprised 8 recombinant enzymes—4 xylanases and 4 cellulases—thereby representing a potent enzymatic cocktail for solubilization of natural lignocellulosic substrates. The contribution of the adaptor scaffoldin clearly demonstrated that proximity between the two scaffoldins and their composite set of enzymes is crucial for optimized degradation. After 72 h of incubation, the performance of the extended designer cellulosome was determined to be approximately 70% compared to that of native cellulosomes.
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