Cellulose-based materials are produced industrially in countless varieties via top-down processing of natural lignocellulose substrates. By contrast, cellulosic materials are only rarely prepared via bottom up synthesis and oligomerization-induced self-assembly of cellulose chains. Building up a cellulose chain via precision polymerization is promising, however, for it offers tunability and control of the final chemical structure. Synthetic cellulose derivatives with programmable material properties might thus be obtained. Cellodextrin phosphorylase (CdP; EC 18.104.22.168) catalyzes iterative β-1,4-glycosylation from α-D-glucose 1-phosphate, with the ability to elongate a diversity of acceptor substrates, including cellobiose, D-glucose and a range of synthetic glycosides having non-sugar aglycons. Depending on the reaction conditions leading to different degrees of polymerization (DP), short-chain soluble cello-oligosaccharides (COS) or insoluble cellulosic materials are formed. Here, we review the characteristics of CdP as bio-catalyst for synthetic applications and show advances in the enzymatic production of COS and reducing end-modified, tailored cellulose materials. Recent studies reveal COS as interesting dietary fibers that could provide a selective prebiotic effect. The bottom-up synthesized celluloses involve chains of DP ≥ 9, as precipitated in solution, and they form ~5 nm thick sheet-like crystalline structures of cellulose allomorph II. Solvent conditions and aglycon structures can direct the cellulose chain self-assembly towards a range of material architectures, including hierarchically organized networks of nanoribbons, or nanorods as well as distorted nanosheets. Composite materials are also formed. The resulting materials can be useful as property-tunable hydrogels and feature site-specific introduction of functional and chemically reactive groups. Therefore, COS and cellulose obtained via bottom-up synthesis can expand cellulose applications towards product classes that are difficult to access via top-down processing of natural materials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Angewandte Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie