Cellulosomes: Bacterial nanomachines for dismantling plant polysaccharides

Lior Artzi, Edward A. Bayer, Sarah Moraïs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Cellulosomes are multienzyme complexes that are produced by anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria for the degradation of lignocellulosic biomass. They comprise a complex of scaffoldin, which is the structural subunit, and various enzymatic subunits. The intersubunit interactions in these multienzyme complexes are mediated by cohesin and dockerin modules. Cellulosome-producing bacteria have been isolated from a large variety of environments, which reflects their prevalence and the importance of this microbial enzymatic strategy. In a given species, cellulosomes exhibit intrinsic heterogeneity, and between species there is a broad diversity in the composition and configuration of cellulosomes. With the development of modern technologies, such as genomics and proteomics, the full protein content of cellulosomes and their expression levels can now be assessed and the regulatory mechanisms identified. Owing to their highly efficient organization and hydrolytic activity, cellulosomes hold immense potential for application in the degradation of biomass and are the focus of much effort to engineer an ideal microorganism for the conversion of lignocellulose to valuable products, such as biofuels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)
  • Infectious Diseases


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