In recent years, due to the growing global demand for energy, the dependence on fossil fuels and the limited natural ressources and environmental pollution, biofuels have attracted great interest as source of renewable energy. However, the production from plant biomass is still considered an expensive technology and with low efficiency. In this context, the study of carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) is attracting attention. CBMs are protein modules involved on guiding catalytic modules to the polysaccharidases. The study of these protein modules becomes critical for the future production of enzyme chimeras, aiming at the development of more efficient and inexpensive process for biomass conversion onto biofuels. The study of metagenomics has also been extremely important for the identification of new biocatalysts. Currently, 99% of the microorganisms found in these studies cannot be cultured in the laboratory, and so researchers resort to large-scale DNA analysis and bioinformatics techniques for their identification.Dr. Fabio Squina's group identified several enzymes which have potential CBMs, including a cellulase and a xylanase, both with aminoacid sequences portions with characteristics of CBMs, and sharing some degree of identity with other enzymes that have CBMs.This project is aimed at characterizing these putative CBMs, through binding assays and high-resolution structural studies, hoping to elucidate the mechanism of interaction of these modules with their substrates.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: