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Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 4;7:11134. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11134.

Light-driven oxidation of polysaccharides by photosynthetic pigments and a metalloenzyme.

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Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, Frederiksberg C, 1958 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark.
Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, Frederiksberg C, DK-1871 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 5, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Division of Industrial Biotechnology, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Kemivägen 10, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden.


Oxidative processes are essential for the degradation of plant biomass. A class of powerful and widely distributed oxidative enzymes, the lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs), oxidize the most recalcitrant polysaccharides and require extracellular electron donors. Here we investigated the effect of using excited photosynthetic pigments as electron donors. LPMOs combined with pigments and reducing agents were exposed to light, which resulted in a never before seen 100-fold increase in catalytic activity. In addition, LPMO substrate specificity was broadened to include both cellulose and hemicellulose. LPMO enzymes and pigment derivatives common in the environment of plant-degrading organisms thus form a highly reactive and stable light-driven system increasing the turnover rate and versatility of LPMOs. This light-driven system may find applications in biotechnology and chemical processing.

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