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Trends Biotechnol. 2008 Aug;26(8):413-24. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 Jun 23.

Heterologous expression of glycosyl hydrolases in planta: a new departure for biofuels.

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Chemical and Biosciences Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617 Cole Blvd, Golden, CO 80401, USA.


The concept of expressing non-plant glycosyl hydrolase genes in plant tissue is nearly two decades old, yet relatively little work in this field has been reported. However, resurgent interest in technologies aimed at enabling processes that convert biomass to sugars and fuels has turned attention toward this intuitive solution. There are several challenges facing researchers in this field, including the development of better and more specifically targeted delivery systems for hydrolytic genes, the successful folding and post-translational modification of heterologous proteins and the development of cost-effective process strategies utilizing these transformed plants. The integration of these concepts, from the improvement of biomass production and conversion characteristics to the heterologous production of glycosyl hydrolases in a high yielding bioenergy crop, holds considerable promise for improving the lignocellulosic conversion of biomass to ethanol and subsequently to fuels.

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