An endo-β-1,4-glucanase gene (celA) from the rumen anaerobe Ruminococcus albus 8: Cloning, sequencing, and transcriptional analysis

Graeme T. Attwood, Felicitas Herrera, Lee A. Weissenstein, Bryan A. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A genomic library of Ruminococcus albus 8 DNA was constructed in Escherichia coli using bacteriophage λZapII. This library was screened for cellulase components and several Ostazin brilliant red/carboxymethyl cellulose positive clones were isolated. All of these clones contained a common 3.4-kb insert, which was recovered as a plasmid by helper phage excision. The carboxymethyl cellulase coding region was localized to a 1.4-kb region of DNA by nested deletions, and a clone containing the entire celA gene was sequenced. Analysis of the sequence revealed a 1231-bp open reading frame, coding for a protein of 411 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 45,747. This protein, designated CelA, showed extensive homology with family 5 endoglucanases by both primary amino acid sequence alignment and hydrophobic cluster analysis. Cell-free extracts of E. coli containing the celA clone demonstrated activity against carboxymethyl cellulose and acid swollen, cellulose but not against any of the p-nitrophenol glycosides tested, indicating an endo-β-1,4-glucanase type of activity. In vitro transcription-translation experiments showed that three proteins of 48,000, 44,000, and 23,000 molecular weight were produced by clones containing the celA gene. Northern analysis of RNA extracted from R. albus 8 grown on cellulose indicated a celA transcript of approximately 2700 bases, whereas when R. albus 8 was grown on cellobiose, celA transcripts of approximately 3000 and 600 bases were detected. Primer extension analysis of these RNAs revealed different transcription initiation sites for the celA gene when cells were grown with cellulose or cellobiose as the carbon source. These two sites differed by 370 bases in distance. A model, based on transcription and sequence data, is proposed for celA regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian journal of microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Endoglucanase
  • Hydrophobic cluster analysis
  • Ruminococcus albus
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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