Cellulose, cellulases and cellulosomes

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 1998 Oct;8(5):548-57. doi: 10.1016/s0959-440x(98)80143-7.


The structural complexity and rigidity of cellulosic substrates have given rise to a phenomenal diversity of degradative enzymes--the cellulases. Cellulolytic microorganisms produce a wide variety of different catalytic and noncatalytic enzyme modules, which form the cellulases and act synergistically on their substrate. In some microbes, several types of cellulases are organized into an elaborate multifunctional supramolecular complex, known as the cellulosome. A combination of molecular genetic, biochemical, chemical, crystallographic and microscopic techniques are paving the way for new insights into both the structure of cellulose and the mechanisms of its hydrolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Cellulase / chemistry*
  • Cellulase / metabolism*
  • Cellulose / chemistry*
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multienzyme Complexes / chemistry
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism*


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Cellulose
  • Cellulase