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Metab Eng. 2008 Nov;10(6):370-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2008.06.008. Epub 2008 Jul 1.

Cellulase kinetics as a function of cellulose pretreatment.

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  • 1School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0363, USA.


Microcrystalline cellulose (Avicel) was subjected to three different pretreatments (acid, alkaline, and organosolv) before exposure to a mixture of cellulases (Celluclast). Addition of beta-glucosidase, to avoid the well-known inhibition of cellulase by cellobiose, markedly accelerated cellulose hydrolysis up to a ratio of activity units (beta-glucosidase/cellulase) of 20. All pretreatment protocols of Avicel were found to slightly increase its degree of crystallinity in comparison with the untreated control. Adsorption of both cellulase and beta-glucosidase on cellulose is significant and also strongly depends on the wall material of the reactor. The conversion-time behavior of all four states of Avicel was found to be very similar. Jamming of adjacent cellulase enzymes when adsorbed on microcrystalline cellulose surface is evident at higher concentrations of enzyme, beyond 400 U/L cellulase/8 kU/L beta-glucosidase. Jamming explains the observed and well-known dramatically slowing rate of cellulose hydrolysis at high degrees of conversion. In contrast to the enzyme concentration, neither the method of pretreatment nor the presence or absence of presumed fractal kinetics has an effect on the calculated jamming parameter for cellulose hydrolysis.

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