- The metabolism of carbohydrate polymers drives microbial diversity in the human gut microbiome. The selection pressures in this environment have spurred the evolution of a complex reservoir of microbial genes encoding carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes). Previously, we have shown that the human gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt) can depolymerize the most structurally complex glycan, the plant pectin rhamnogalacturonan II (RGII), commonly found in the human diet. Previous investigation of the RGII-degrading apparatus in Bt identified BT0997 as a new CAZyme family, classified as glycoside hydrolase 138 (GH138).
- The enzymatic degradation of plant cell walls is an important biological process of increasing environmental and industrial significance. Xylan, a major component of the plant cell wall, consists of a backbone of β-1,4-xylose (Xylp) units that are often decorated with arabinofuranose (Araf) side chains. A large penta-modular enzyme, CtXyl5A, was shown previously to specifically target arabinoxylans. The mechanism of substrate recognition displayed by the enzyme, however, remains unclear. Here we report the crystal structure of the arabinoxylanase and the enzyme in complex with ligands.