Autohydrolysis of plant polysaccharides using transgenic hyperthermophilic enzymes

Rafael Montalvo-Rodriguez, Cynthia Haseltine, Kathy Huess-LaRossa, Tom Clemente, Jimmy Soto, Paul Staswick, Paul Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Commercial bioprocessing of plant carbohydrates, such as starch or cellulose, necessitates the use of commodity enzyme additives to accelerate polysaccharide hydrolysis. To simplify this procedure, transgenic plant tissues constitutively producing commodity enzymes were examined as a strategy for accelerating carbohydrate bioprocessing. Hyperthermophilic glycosyl hydrolases were selected to circumvent enzyme toxicity, because such enzymes are inactive at plant growth temperatures and are therefore physiologically benign. Transgenic tobacco lines were established that produced either a hyperthermophilic α-glucosidase or a β-glycosidase using genes derived from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus. Western blot and immunoprecipitation analyses were used to demonstrate the presence of recombinant enzymes in plant tissues. Transgenic enzyme levels exhibited an unusual delayed pattern of accumulation while their activities survived plant tissue preservation. Transgenic plant protein extracts released glucose from purified polysaccharide substrates at appreciable rates during incubation in high-temperature reactions. Glucose was also produced following enzymatic treatment of plant extracts enriched for endogenous polysaccharides. Direct conversion of plant tissue into free sugar was evident using whole plant extracts of either transgenic line, and could be significantly accelerated in a synergistic manner by combining transgenic line extracts. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2000


  • Bioprocessing
  • Hydrolases
  • Hyperthermophiles
  • Polysaccharides
  • Tobacco
  • Transgenes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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