Cellulosomes are intricate multienzyme systems produced by several cellulolytic bacteria, the first example of which was discovered in the anaerobic thermophilic bacterium, Clostridium thermocellum. Cellulosomes are designed for efficient degradation of plant cell wall polysaccharides, notably cellulose--the most abundant renewable polymer on earth. The component parts of the multicomponent complex are integrated by virtue of a unique family of integrating modules, the cohesins and the dockerins, whose distribution and specificity dictate the overall cellulosome architecture. A full generation of research has elapsed since the original publications that documented the cellulosome concept. In this review, we provide a personal account on the discovery process, while describing how divergent cellulosome systems were identified and investigated, culminating in the collaboration of several labs worldwide to tackle together the challenging field of cellulosome genomics and metagenomics.
2008 The Japan Chemical Journal Forum and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.