Recent studies demonstrate that enzymes from the glycosyl hydrolase family 61 (GH61) show lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase (PMO) activity. Together with cellobiose dehydrogenase (CDH) an enzymatic system capable of oxidative cellulose cleavage is formed, which increases the efficiency of cellulases and put PMOs at focus of biofuel research. Large amounts of purified PMOs, which are difficult to obtain from the native fungal producers, are needed to study their reaction kinetics, structure and industrial application. In addition, a fast and robust enzymatic assay is necessary to monitor enzyme production and purification.
Four pmo genes from Neurospora crassa were expressed in P. pastoris under control of the AOX1 promoter. High yields were obtained for the glycosylated gene products PMO-01867, PMO-02916 and PMO-08760 (>300 mg L-1), whereas the yield of non-glycosylated PMO-03328 was moderate (45 mg L-1). The production and purification of all four enzymes was specifically followed by a newly developed, fast assay based on a side reaction of PMO: the production of H2O2 in the presence of reductants. While ascorbate is a suitable reductant for homogeneous PMO preparations, fermentation samples require the specific electron donor CDH.
P. pastoris is a high performing expression host for N. crassa PMOs. The pmo genes under control of the native signal sequence are correctly processed and active. The novel CDH-based enzyme assay allows fast determination of PMO activity in fermentation samples and is robust against interfering matrix components.