Cloning, characterization and directed evolution of a xylosidase from Aspergillus niger
β-xylosidases catalyse the hydrolyses of xylooligosaccharides into the monosaccharide sugar, xylose. In this study we report the production of xylose under different conditions in Pichia pastoris and Saccharomyces. cerevisiae, and its conversion to bioethanol using Pichia stipitis. The aim of this study was to change the characteristics of the A. niger 90196 β-xylosidase through random mutagenesis and increase expression under the control of different promoter systems in yeasts P. pastoris and S. cerevisiae. The recombinant library created through random mutagenesis was screened for changes in activity and subsequently pH and temperature stability. One variant showed an increase in enzyme expression, thermostability, and a change in amino acid sequence at residue 226. The enzyme was then cloned, expressed and characterized in P. pastoris GS115 and S. cerevisiae. β-xylosidase was constitutively expressed in P. pastoris using the GAP promoter and the inducible AOX promoter. In S. cerevisiae the enzyme was expressed using the constitutive PGK promoter and inducible ADH2 promoter systems. Enzyme functionality with the different expression systems was compared in both hosts. The GAP system was identified as the highest-producing system in P. pastoris, yielding 70 U/ml after 72 hours, followed by the PGK system in S. cerevisiae, with 8 U/ml. A 12% SDS-PAGE gel revealed a major protein band with an estimated molecular mass of 120 kDA, and the zymogram analysis revealed that this band is a fluorescent band under UV illumination, indicating enzyme activity. Stability characteristics was determined by expressing the enzyme at different pH and temperatures. Under the control of the GAP promoter in P. pastoris, enzyme activity peaked at pH4 while retaining 80% activity between pH 3 – 5. Highest activity of 70 U/ml xylosidase was recorded at 60ºC. Due to the high enzyme production in P. pastoris, the co-expression of this enzyme with a fungal xylanase was evaluated. The xylanase gene from Thermomyces lanuginosus was cloned with the GAP promoter system and expressed together with the β-xylosidase recombinant in P. pastoris. Enzyme activities of the co-expressed recombinant revealed a decrease in enzyme activity levels. The co-expressed xylanase production decreased by 26% from 136 U/ml to 100 U/ml while the xylosidase expression decreased 86% from 70 U/ml to 10 U/ml. The xylose produced from the hydrolysis of birchwood xylan was quantified by HPLC. The monosaccharide sugar was used in a separate saccharification and fermentation strategy by P. stipitis to produce bioethanol, quantified by gas chromatography. Bioethanol production peaked at 72 h producing 0.7% bioethanol from 10 g/l xylose. In conclusion a β-xylosidase from Aspergillus niger was successfully expressed in P. pastoris and was found to express large quantities of xylosidase, that has not been achieved in any prior research to date. The enzyme was also successfully co-expressed with a Thermomyces xylanase and is now capable of bioethanol production through xylan hydrolysis. This highlights potential use in industrial applications in an effort to reduce the world dependence on petroleum and fossil fuels. However the technical challenges associated with commercialization of bioethanol production are still significant.