EIA: Transportation will Drive Growth in Oil Demand (Up 42% by 2025)
New Mazda Basecoat Results in Lowered Emissions; a Companion to Ford’s 3-Wet Paint System

New Molecule Could Help Development of Cellulosic Biofuels Production

CBP21, a non-catalytic protein, promotes the breakdown of chitin.

Researchers from Norway and the UK have discovered a new protein that is essential for the degradation of the biopolymer chitin. This new molecule could eventually lead to the discovery of similar molecules that could be used in the production of cellulose-based biofuels.

A paper describing the research is published in the August 5 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Chitin is an insoluble molecule consisting of tightly packed chains of polymerized sugars that is a major structural component for crustaceans, mollusks, algae, insects, fungi and yeasts .

More than one billion tons of chitin are produced by insects, fungi, and marine organisms every year—yet the absence of accumulation in most ecosystems indicates that chitin is successfully degraded.

Enzymes called chitinases are responsible for breaking down chitin, but the mechanism for breaking the bonds between the sugar units has been unclear until now.

The research team investigated chitin degradation by the soil bacterium Serratia marcescens, and discovered that in addition to producing chitinases, the bacterium also produces a protein called CBP21 (Chitin-Binding Protein) which binds to and disrupts the chitin polymer making it more accessible to degradation by chitinases.

They found that adding CBP21 dramatically speeds up the degradation of chitin by chitinases.

One might say that our discovery may lead to discovery of proteins with similar functions in cellulose processing. This may be of major important for the cellulose field and production of biofuel.

—Dr. Vincent G. H. Eijsink, Norwegian University of Life Sciences




Chalk one up for applied evolutionary theory.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)