The cellulosome paradigm in an extreme alkaline environment

Paripok Phitsuwan, Sarah Moraïs, Bareket Dassa, Bernard Henrissat, Edward A. Bayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rapid decomposition of plant biomass in soda lakes is associated with microbial activity of anaerobic cellulose-degrading communities. The alkaliphilic bacterium, Clostridium alkalicellulosi, is the single known isolate from a soda lake that demonstrates cellulolytic activity. This microorganism secretes cellulolytic enzymes that degrade cellulose under anaerobic and alkaliphilic conditions. A previous study indicated that the protein fraction of cellulose-grown cultures showed similarities in composition and size to known components of the archetypical cellulosome Clostridium thermocellum. Bioinformatic analysis of the C. alkalicellulosi draft genome sequence revealed 44 cohesins, organized into 22 different scaffoldins, and 142 dockerin-containing proteins. The modular organization of the scaffoldins shared similarities to those of C. thermocellum and Acetivibrio cellulolyticus, whereas some exhibited unconventional arrangements containing peptidases and oxidative enzymes. The binding interactions among cohesins and dockerins assessed by ELISA, revealed a complex network of cellulosome assemblies and suggested both cell-associated and cell-free systems. Based on these interactions, C. alkalicellulosi cellulosomal systems have the genetic potential to create elaborate complexes, which could integrate up to 105 enzymatic subunits. The alkalistable C. alkalicellulosi cellulosomal systems and their enzymes would be amenable to biotechnological processes, such as treatment of lignocellulosic biomass following prior alkaline pretreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Alkaliphilic bacterium
  • Biomass degradation
  • Clostridium alkalicellulosi
  • Cohesin
  • Dockerin
  • Glycoside hydrolases
  • Scaffoldin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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