Product inhibition of cellulolytic enzymes has been deemed a critical factor in the industrial saccharification of cellulosic biomass. Several investigations have addressed this problem using crude enzyme preparations or commercial (mixed) cellulase products, but quantitative information on individual cellulases hydrolyzing insoluble cellulose remains insufficient. Such knowledge is necessary to pinpoint and quantify inhibitory weak-links in cellulose hydrolysis, but has proven challenging to come by. Here we show that product inhibition of mono-component cellulases hydrolyzing unmodified cellulose may be monitored by calorimetry. The key advantage of this approach is that it directly measures the rate of hydrolysis while being essentially blind to the background of added product. We investigated the five major cellulases from Hypocrea jecorina (anamorph: Tricoderma reesei), Cel7A (formerly CBH1), Cel6A (CBH2), Cel7B (EG1), Cel5A (EG2) and Cel12A (EG3), for their sensitivity to the products glucose and cellobiose. The strongest inhibition was found for Cel7A, which showed a 50% activity-loss in 19 mM cellobiose (IC50 = 19 mM). The other exoglucanase, Cel6A, was much less inhibited by cellobiose, but showed the highest sensitivity to glucose among all investigated enzymes. The endoglucanases Cel12A and Cel7B were moderately inhibited by cellobiose (IC50 = 60–80 mM), and weakly inhibited by glucose (IC50 = 350–380 mM). The highest resistance to both products was found for Cel5A, which retained about 75% of its activity at the highest investigated concentrations (respectively 65 mM cellobiose and 1000 mM glucose).
Enzyme and Microbial Technology, 2013, Vol 52, Issue 3, p. 163-169