Development of Building Blocks - Thermostable Enzymes for Synthetic Pathway Biotransformation (SyPaB)

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Virginia Tech


Hydrogen production from abundant renewable biomass would decrease reliance on crude oils, achieve nearly zero net greenhouse gas emissions, create more jobs, and enhance national energy security. Cell-free synthetic pathway biotransformation (SyPaB) is the implementation of complicated chemical reaction by the in vitro assembly of numerous enzymes and coenzymes that microbes cannot do. One of the largest challenges is the high cost and instability of enzymes and cofactors. To overcome this obstacle, strong motivations have driven intensive efforts in discovering, engineering, and producing thermostable enzymes.

In this project, ribose-5-phosphate isomerase (RpiB), one of the most important enzymes in the pentose phosphate pathway, was cloned from a thermophile Thermotoga maritima, and heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and characterized. High-purity RpiB was obtained by heat pretreatment through its optimization in buffer choice, buffer pH, as well as temperature and duration of pretreatment. This enzyme had the maximum activity at 80°C and pH 6.5-8.0. It had a half lifetime of 71 h at 60°C, resulting in its turn-over number of more than 2 x108 mol of product per mol of enzyme. Another two thermostable enzymes glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) and diaphorase (DI) and their fusion proteins G6PDH-DI and DI-G6PDH were cloned from Geobacillus stearothermophilus, heterologouely expressed in E. coli and purified through its His-tag. The individual proteins G6PDH and DI have good thermostability and reactivity. However, the presence of DI in fusion proteins drastically decreased G6DPH activity. However, a mixture of G6PDH and a fusion protein G6PDH-DI not only restored G6PDH activity through the formation of heteromultimeric network but also facilitated substrate channeling between DI and G6PDH, especially at low enzyme concentrations.

My researches would provide important building blocks for the on-going projects: high-yield hydrogen production through cell-free enzymatic pathways and electrical energy production through enzymatic fuel cells.



substrate channeling, synthetic pathway biotranformation (SyPaB), diaphorase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, RpiB, ribose-5-phosphate isomerase, thermostable enzymes, biofuel