Glycosylation effects on the structure and dynamics of a full-length Cel7A cellulase

Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom. 2020 Jan;1868(1):140248. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2019.07.001. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Fungi cellulases are used to degrade cellulose-containing biomass for bioethanol production. Industrial cellulases such as Cel7A from Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) are critical in this process. Thus, the understanding of structure and dynamics is crucial for engineering variants with improved cellulolytic activity. This cellulase consists of two domains connected by a flexible and highly glycosylated linker. However, the linker flexibility has hindered the determination of Cel7A complete structure. Herein, based on atomic and sparse data, we applied integrative modelling to build a model of the complete enzyme structure. Next, through simulations, we studied the glycosylation effects on the structure and dynamics of a solubilized TrCel7A. Essential dynamics analysis showed that O-glycosylation in the linker led to the stabilization of protein overall dynamics. O-linked glycans seem to restrict protein dihedral angles distribution in this region, selecting more elongated conformations. Besides the reduced flexibility, functional interdomain motions occurred in a more concerted way in the glycosylated system. In contrast, in the absence of glycosylation, we observed vast conformational plasticity with the functional domains frequently collapsing. We report here evidence that targeting Cel7A linker flexibility by point mutations including modification of glycosylation sites could be a promising design strategy to improve cellulase activity.

Keywords: Biofuel; Cellulase; Conformational changes; Glycosylations; Molecular dynamics; Trichoderma reesei.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cellulase / chemistry*
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Glycosylation
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Trichoderma / enzymology*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Cellulase