Precision synthesis of reducing-end thiol-modified cellulose enabled by enzyme selection

Chao Zhong, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enzyme-catalyzed iterative β-1,4-glycosylation of β-glycosides is promising for bottom-up polymerization of reducing-end-modified cello-oligosaccharide chains. Self-assembly of the chains from solution yields crystalline nanocellulose materials with properties that are tunable by the glycoside group used. Cellulose chains with a reducing-end thiol group are of interest to install a controllable pattern of site-selective modifications into the nanocellulose material. Selection of the polymerizing enzyme (cellodextrin phosphorylase; CdP) was pursued here to enhance the synthetic precision of β-1-thio-glucose conversion to generate pure “1-thio-cellulose” (≥95%) unencumbered by plain (unlabeled) cellulose resulting from enzymatic side reactions. The CdP from Clostridium stercorarium (CsCdP) was 21 times more active on β-1-thio-glucose (0.17 U/mg; 45 °C) than the CdP from Clostridium cellulosi (CcCdP), and it lacked hydrolase activity, which is substantial in CcCdP, against the α-d-glucose 1-phosphate donor substrate. The combination of these enzyme properties indicated that CsCdP is a practical catalyst for 1-thio-cellulose synthesis directly from β-1-thio-glucose (8 h; 25 mol% yield) that does not require a second enzyme (cellobiose phosphorylase), which was essential when using the less selective CcCdP. The 1-thio-cellulose chains had an average degree of polymerization of ∼10 and were assembled into highly crystalline cellulose II crystallinity material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551–560
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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