The crystalline region of cellulose is the main barrier to the utilization of crystalline cellulose. Cytophaga hutchinsonii actively digests the crystalline region of cellulose by an unknown mechanism. Transposon mutagenesis was done to identify a novel gene locus chu_1557, which is required for efficient disruption of the crystalline region of cellulose, and the absence of CHU_1557 resulted in decreased glucose assimilation efficiency. The defect of the mutant in the disruption of the crystalline region of cellulose was partially retained by additional glucose or pre-culturing the mutant in a low glucose concentration medium which could improve its glucose absorption efficiency. These results suggested that extracellular glucose has important roles in the disruption of crystalline cellulose by C. hutchinsonii. Further study showed that the expression of an outer membrane protein CHU_3732 was downregulated by the absence of CHU_1557 in a low glucose concentration medium. CHU_3732 was involved in uptake of glucose and its expression was induced by a low concentration of glucose. CHU_3732 was predicted to be a porin, so we inferred that it may work as a glucose transport channel in the outer membrane. Based on these results, we deduced that CHU_1557 played a role in the process of glucose assimilation and its disruption affected the expression of other proteins related to glucose transportation such as CHU_3732, and then affected the cell growth in a low glucose concentration medium and disruption of the crystalline region of cellulose.
Keywords: Cellulose degradation; Crystalline region of cellulose; Cytophaga hutchinsonii; Glucose assimilation.