Biotechnology for biofuels

Specific tracking of xylan using fluorescent-tagged carbohydrate-binding module 15 as molecular probe.

PMID 27019671


Xylan has been identified as a physical barrier which limits cellulose accessibility by covering the outer surface of fibers and interfibrillar space. Therefore, tracking xylan is a prerequisite for understanding and optimizing lignocellulosic biomass processes. In this study, we developed a novel xylan tracking approach using a two-domain probe called OC15 which consists of a fusion of Cellvibrio japonicus carbohydrate-binding domain 15 with the fluorescent protein mOrange2. The new probe specifically binds to xylan with an affinity similar to that of CBM15. The sensitivity of the OC15-xylan detection approach was compared to that of standard methods such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and chemical composition analysis (NREL/TP-510-42618). All three approaches were used to analyze the variations of xylan content of kraft pulp fibers. XPS, which allows for surface analysis of fibers, did not clearly indicate changes in xylan content. Chemical composition analysis responded to the changes in xylan content, but did not give any specific information related to the fibers surface. Interestingly, only the OC15 probe enabled the highly sensitive detection of xylan variations at the surface of kraft pulp fibers. At variance with the other methods, the OC15 probe can be used in a high throughput format. We developed a rapid and high throughput approach for the detection of changes in xylan exposure at the surface of paper fibers. The introduction of this method into the lignocellulosic biomass-based industries should revolutionize the understanding and optimization of most wood biomass processes.