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Author ORCID ID is 0000000151639398
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  1. Microbial aromatic catabolism offers a promising approach to convert lignin, a vast source of renewable carbon, into useful products. Aryl-O-demethylation is an essential biochemical reaction to ultimately catabolize coniferyl and sinapyl lignin-derived aromatic compounds, and is often a key bottleneck for both native and engineered bioconversion pathways. Here, we report the comprehensive characterization of a promiscuous P450 aryl-O-demethylase, consisting of a cytochrome P450 protein from the family CYP255A (GcoA) and a three-domain reductase (GcoB) that together represent a new two-component P450 class. Though originally described as converting guaiacol to catechol, we show that this system efficiently demethylates both guaiacol andmore » an unexpectedly wide variety of lignin-relevant monomers. Here, structural, biochemical, and computational studies of this novel two-component system elucidate the mechanism of its broad substrate specificity, presenting it as a new tool for a critical step in biological lignin conversion.« less
  2. cis,cis-Muconic acid is a platform biobased chemical that can be upgraded to drop-in commodity and novel monomers. Among the possible drop-in products, dimethyl terephthalate can be synthesized via esterification, isomerization, Diels-Alder cycloaddition, and dehydrogenation. The isomerization of cis,cis-dimethyl muconate ( ccDMM) to the trans,trans-form ( ttDMM) can be catalyzed by iodine; however, studies have yet to address (i) the mechanism and reaction barriers unique to DMM, and (ii) the influence of solvent, potential for catalyst recycle, and recovery of high-purity ttDMM. To address this gap, we apply a joint computational and experimental approach to investigate iodine-catalyzed isomerization of DMM. Densitymore » functional theory calculations identified unique regiochemical considerations due to the large number of halogen-diene coordination schemes. Both transition state theory and experiments estimate significant barrier reductions with photodissociated iodine. Solvent selection was critical for rapid kinetics, likely due to solvent complexation with iodine. Under select conditions, ttDMM yields of 95% were achieved in <1 h with methanol, followed by high purity recovery (>98%) with crystallization. Lastly, post-reaction iodine can be recovered and recycled with minimal loss of activity. Altogether, these findings provide new insight into the mechanism and conditions necessary for DMM isomerization with iodine to advance the state-of-the-art for biobased chemicals.« less
  3. Protein glycosylation is a diverse post-translational modification that serves myriad biological functions.
  4. Glycoside Hydrolase Family 7 cellobiohydrolases (GH7 CBHs) catalyze cellulose depolymerization in cellulolytic eukaryotes, making them key discovery and engineering targets. However, there remains a lack of robust structure–activity relationships for these industrially important cellulases. Here, we compare CBHs from Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) and Penicillium funiculosum (PfCel7A), which exhibit a multi-modular architecture consisting of catalytic domain (CD), carbohydrate-binding module, and linker. We show that PfCel7A exhibits 60% greater performance on biomass than TrCel7A. To understand the contribution of each domain to this improvement, we measure enzymatic activity for a library of CBH chimeras with swapped subdomains, demonstrating that the enhancement ismore » mainly caused by PfCel7A CD. We solve the crystal structure of PfCel7A CD and use this information to create a second library of TrCel7A CD mutants, identifying a TrCel7A double mutant with near-equivalent activity to wild-type PfCel7A. Overall, these results reveal CBH regions that enable targeted activity improvements.« less
  5. Interest in fatty acid-derived products as fuel and chemical precursors has grown substantially. Microbes can be genetically engineered to produce fatty acid-derived products that are able to cross host membranes and can be extracted into an applied organic overlay. This process is thought to be passive, with a rate dependent on the chemistry of the crossing compound. The relationship between the chemical composition and the energetics and kinetics of product accumulation within the overlay is not well understood. Through biased and unbiased molecular simulation, we compute the membrane permeability coefficients from production to extraction for different fatty acyl products, includingmore » fatty acids, fatty alcohols, fatty aldehydes, alkanes, and alkenes. These simulations identify specific interactions that accelerate the transit of aldehydes across the membrane bilayer relative to other oxidized products, specifically the lack of hydrogen bonds to the surrounding membrane environment. However, since extraction from the outer membrane leaflet into the organic phase is found to be rate limiting for the entire process, we find that fatty alcohols and fatty aldehydes would both manifest similar fluxes into a dodecane overlay under equivalent conditions, outpacing the accumulation of acids or alkanes into the organic phase. Since aldehydes are known to be highly reactive as well as toxic in high quantities, the findings suggest that indeed fatty alcohols are the optimal long-tail fatty acyl product for extraction.« less
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