Structure of novel biomass degrading enzymes – University of Copenhagen

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03 February 2015

Structure of novel biomass degrading enzymes

Green and sustainable chemistry

Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are a new class of metalloenzymes with considerable interest for the conversion of waste biomass to biofuels and value added products. Crystallographers from the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen (Ass. Professor Leila Lo Leggio, PhD student Kristian Frandsen and Lab manager Jens-Christian N. Poulsen) and researchers from Novozymes A/S, the University of Cambridge, the University of York and the CNRS of Marseille have characterized a newly discovered family of LPMOs through a multidisciplinary study.

This family has activity on α-glucans (starch and related polysaccharides), rather than β-linked polysaccharides like cellulose or chitin, which are degraded by the LPMOs known until recently. Normally, starch is considered much easier to break down than cellulose, however several hard to degrade starches and starch-like polysaccharides are found in nature and industrial processes.

First 3D structure

The researchers at the Department of Chemistry have determined the first 3D structure of a member of this family, which helped the team understand its unique specificity. The results are presented in the journal Nature Communication “Structure, spectroscopy and boosting activity of starch-degrading lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases” by Lo Leggio et al. Read full article here.

The study is part of the international collaborative project CESBIC (Critical Enzymes for Sustainable Biofuels from Cellulose), funded by the European Research Area Industrial Biotechnology network (ERA-IB). The Danish portion of the research is funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research