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Cellulose-synthesizing machinery in bacteria

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Cellulose is produced by all plants and a number of other organisms, including bacteria. The most representative cellulose-producing bacterial species is Gluconacetobacter xylinus, an acetic acid bacterium. Cellulose produced by G. xylinus, commonly referred to as bacterial cellulose (BC), has exceptional physicochemical properties resulting in its use in a variety of applications. All cellulose-producing organisms that synthesize cellulose microfibrils have membrane-localized protein complexes (also called terminal complexes or TCs) that contain the enzyme cellulose synthase and other proteins. The bacterium G. xylinus is a prolific cellulose producer and a model organism for studies on cellulose biosynthesis. The widths of cellulose fibers produced by Gluconacetobacter are 50–100 nm, suggesting that cellulose-synthesizing complexes are nanomachines spinning a nanofiber. At least four different proteins (BcsA, BcsB, BcsC, and BcsD) are included in TC from Gluconacetobacter, and the proposed function of each is as follows: BcsA, synthesis of a glucan chain through glycosyl transfer from UDP-glucose; BcsB, complexes with BcsA for cellulose synthase activity; BcsC, formation of a pore in the outer membrane through which a glucan chain is extruded; BcsD, regulates aggregation of glucan chains through four tunnel-like structures. In this review, we discuss structures and functions of these four and a few other proteins that have a role in cellulose biosynthesis in bacteria.

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reproduced from Ross et al. 1991, and is used with permission of American Society for Microbiology

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This work was financially supported by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) (No. 19H00950, T.I.) and (B) (No. 19H02549, K.T.).

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Correspondence to Kenji Tajima or Inder Saxena.

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Tajima, K., Imai, T., Yui, T. et al. Cellulose-synthesizing machinery in bacteria. Cellulose 29, 2755–2777 (2022).

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