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Pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass with sulfuric acid may leave sulfate groups on its surface that may hinder its biochemical conversion. This study investigates the effects of sulfate groups on cellulase adsorption onto cellulose substrates and the enzymatic hydrolysis of these substrates. Substrates with different sulfate group densities were prepared from H2SO4- and HCl-hydrolyzed and partially and fully desulfated cellulose nanocrystals. Adsorption onto and hydrolysis of the substrates was analyzed by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D). The surface roughness of the substrates, measured by atomic force microscopy, increased with decreasing sulfate group density, but their surface accessibilities, measured by QCM-D H2O/D2O exchange experiments, were similar. The adsorption of cellulose binding domains onto sulfated substrates decreased with increasing sulfate group density, but the adsorption of cellulases increased. The rate of hydrolysis of sulfated substrates decreased with increasing sulfate group density. The results indicated an inhibitory effect of sulfate groups on the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose, possibly due to nonproductive binding of the cellulases onto the substrates through electrostatic interactions instead of their cellulose binding domains.


Feng Jiang, Joshua D Kittle, Xinyi Tan, Alan R Esker, Maren Roman. Effects of sulfate groups on the adsorption and activity of cellulases on cellulose substrates. Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids. 2013 Mar 12;29(10):3280-91

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PMID: 23452241

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