Enzymatic mechanism for arabinan degradation and transport in the thermophilic bacterium caldanaerobius polysaccharolyticus

Daniel Wefers, Jia Dong, Ahmed M. Abdel-Hamid, Hans Müller Paul, Gabriel V. Pereira, Yejun Han, Dylan Dodd, Ramiya Baskaran, Beth Mayer, Roderick I. Mackie, Isaac Cann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The plant cell wall polysaccharide arabinan provides an important supply of arabinose, and unraveling arabinan-degrading strategies by microbes is important for understanding its use as a source of energy. Here, we explored the arabinan-degrading enzymes in the thermophilic bacterium Caldanaerobius polysaccharolyticus and identified a gene cluster encoding two glycoside hydrolase (GH) family 51 α-L-arabinofuranosidases (CpAbf51A, CpAbf51B), a GH43 endoarabinanase (CpAbn43A), a GH27 βS-L-arabinopyranosidase (CpAbp27A), and two GH127 β-Larabinofuranosidases (CpAbf127A, CpAbf127B). The genes were expressed as recombinant proteins, and the functions of the purified proteins were determined with para-nitrophenyl (pNP)-linked sugars and naturally occurring pectin structural elements as the substrates. The results demonstrated that CpAbn43A is an endoarabinanase while CpAbf51A and CpAbf51B are α-L-arabinofuranosidases that exhibit diverse substrate specificities, cleaving α-1,2, α-1,3, and α-1,5 linkages of purified arabinan-oligosaccharides. Furthermore, both CpAbf127A and CpAbf127B cleaved β-arabinofuranose residues in complex arabinan side chains, thus providing evidence of the function of this family of enzymes on such polysaccharides. The optimal temperatures of the enzymes ranged between 60°C and 75°C, and CpAbf43A and CpAbf51A worked synergistically to release arabinose from branched and debranched arabinan. Furthermore, the hydrolytic activity on branched arabinan oligosaccharides and degradation of pectic substrates by the endoarabinanase and L-arabinofuranosidases suggested a microbe equipped with diverse activities to degrade complex arabinan in the environment. Based on our functional analyses of the genes in the arabinan degradation cluster and the substrate-binding studies on a component of the cognate transporter system, we propose a model for arabinan degradation and transport by C. polysaccharolyticus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00794
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Pectic enzymes
  • Thermophiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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