Digestion of plant cell wall polysaccharides is important in energy capture in the gastrointestinal tract of many herbivorous and omnivorous mammals, including humans and ruminants. The members of the genus Ruminococcus are found in both the ruminant and human gastrointestinal tract, where they show versatility in degrading both hemicellulose and cellulose. The available genome sequence of Ruminococcus albus 8, a common inhabitant of the cow rumen, alludes to a bacterium well-endowed with genes that target degradation of various plant cell wall components. The mechanisms by which R. albus 8 employs to degrade these recalcitrant materials are, however, not clearly understood. In this report, we demonstrate that R. albus 8 elaborates multiple cellobiohydrolases with multi-modular architectures that overall enhance the catalytic activity and versatility of the enzymes. Furthermore, our analyses show that two cellobiose phosphorylases encoded by R. albus 8 can function synergistically with a cognate cellobiohydrolase and endoglucanase to completely release, from a cellulosic substrate, glucose which can then be fermented by the bacterium for production of energy and cellular building blocks. We further use transcriptomic analysis to confirm the over-expression of the biochemically characterized enzymes during growth of the bacterium on cellulosic substrates compared to cellobiose.
ASJC Scopus subject areas