Cellulose is not just cellulose: a review of dislocations as reactive sites in the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose microfibrils

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Most secondary plant cell walls contain irregular regions known as dislocations or slip planes. Under industrial biorefining conditions dislocations have recently been shown to play a key role during the initial phase of the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose in plant cell walls. In this review we chart previous publications that have discussed the structure of dislocations and their susceptibility to hydrolysis. The supramolecular structure of cellulose in dislocations is still unknown. However, it has been shown that cellulose microfibrils continue through dislocations, i.e. dislocations are not regions where free cellulose ends are more abundant than in the bulk cell wall. In more severe cases cracks between fibrils form at dislocations and it is possible that the increased accessibility that these cracks give is the reason why hydrolysis of cellulose starts at these locations. If acid or enzymatic hydrolysis of plant cell walls is carried out simultaneously with the application of shear stress, plant cells such as fibers or tracheids break at their dislocations. At present it is not known whether specific carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) and/or cellulases preferentially access cellulose at dislocations. From the few studies published so far it seems that no special type of CBM is involved. In one case an endoglucanase was found to preferably bind to dislocations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1493
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ID: 43710080