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Effects of synthetic cohesin-containing scaffold protein architecture on binding dockerin-enzyme fusions on the surface of Lactococcus lactis

Andrew S Wieczorek and Vincent JJ Martin*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, H4B 1R6, Canada

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:160  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-160

Published: 15 December 2012



The microbial synthesis of fuels, commodity chemicals, and bioactive compounds necessitates the assemblage of multiple enzyme activities to carry out sequential chemical reactions, often via substrate channeling by means of multi-domain or multi-enzyme complexes. Engineering the controlled incorporation of enzymes in recombinant protein complexes is therefore of interest. The cellulosome of Clostridium thermocellum is an extracellular enzyme complex that efficiently hydrolyzes crystalline cellulose. Enzymes interact with protein scaffolds via type 1 dockerin/cohesin interactions, while scaffolds in turn bind surface anchor proteins by means of type 2 dockerin/cohesin interactions, which demonstrate a different binding specificity than their type 1 counterparts. Recombinant chimeric scaffold proteins containing cohesins of different specificity allow binding of multiple enzymes to specific sites within an engineered complex.


We report the successful display of engineered chimeric scaffold proteins containing both type 1 and type 2 cohesins on the surface of Lactococcus lactis cells. The chimeric scaffold proteins were able to form complexes with the Escherichia coli β-glucuronidase fused to either type 1 or type 2 dockerin, and differences in binding efficiencies were correlated with scaffold architecture. We used E. coli β-galactosidase, also fused to type 1 or type 2 dockerins, to demonstrate the targeted incorporation of two enzymes into the complexes. The simultaneous binding of enzyme pairs each containing a different dockerin resulted in bi-enzymatic complexes tethered to the cell surface. The sequential binding of the two enzymes yielded insights into parameters affecting assembly of the complex such as protein size and position within the scaffold.


The spatial organization of enzymes into complexes is an important strategy for increasing the efficiency of biochemical pathways. In this study, chimeric protein scaffolds consisting of type 1 and type 2 cohesins anchored on the surface of L. lactis allowed for the controlled positioning of dockerin-fused reporter enzymes onto the scaffolds. By binding single enzymes or enzyme pairs to the scaffolds, our data also suggest that the size and relative positions of enzymes can affect the catalytic profiles of the resulting complexes. These insights will be of great value as we engineer more advanced scaffold-guided protein complexes to optimize biochemical pathways.