Continuous process technology for bottom-up synthesis of soluble cello-oligosaccharides by immobilized cells co-expressing three saccharide phosphorylases

Katharina N. Schwaiger, Bernd Nidetzky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Continuous processing with enzyme reuse is a well-known engineering strategy to enhance the efficiency of biocatalytic transformations for chemical synthesis. In one-pot multistep reactions, continuous processing offers the additional benefit of ensuring constant product quality via control of the product composition. Bottom-up production of cello-oligosaccharides (COS) involves multistep iterative β-1,4-glycosylation of glucose from sucrose catalyzed by sucrose phosphorylase from Bifidobacterium adeloscentis (BaScP), cellobiose phosphorylase from Cellulomonas uda (CuCbP) and cellodextrin phosphorylase from Clostridium cellulosi (CcCdP). Degree of polymerization (DP) control in the COS product is essential for soluble production and is implemented through balance of the oligosaccharide priming and elongation rates. A whole-cell E. coli catalyst co-expressing the phosphorylases in high yield and in the desired activity ratio, with CdP as the rate-limiting enzyme, was reported previously. Results: Freeze-thaw permeabilized E. coli cells were immobilized in polyacrylamide (PAM) at 37–111 mg dry cells/g material. PAM particles (0.25–2.00 mm size) were characterized for COS production (~ 70 g/L) in mixed vessel with catalyst recycle and packed-bed reactor set-ups. The catalyst exhibited a dry mass-based overall activity (270 U/g; 37 mg cells/g material) lowered by ~ 40% compared to the corresponding free cells due to individual enzyme activity loss, CbP in particular, caused by the immobilization. Temperature studies revealed an operational optimum at 30 °C for stable continuous reaction (~ 1 month) in the packed bed (volume: 40 mL; height: 7.5 cm). The optimum reflects the limits of PAM catalyst structural and biological stability in combination with the requirement to control COS product solubility in order to prevent clogging of the packed bed. Using an axial flow rate of 0.75 cm− 1, the COS were produced at ~ 5.7 g/day and ≥ 95% substrate conversion (sucrose 300 mM). The product stream showed a stable composition of individual oligosaccharides up to cellohexaose, with cellobiose (48 mol%) and cellotriose (31 mol%) as the major components. Conclusions: Continuous process technology for bottom-up biocatalytic production of soluble COS is demonstrated based on PAM immobilized E. coli cells that co-express BaScP, CuCbP and CcCdP in suitable absolute and relative activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number265
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Cello-oligosaccharides (COS)
  • Continuous process technology
  • Immobilized whole-cell catalyst
  • Multi-enzymatic cascade
  • Packed-bed reactor
  • Polyacrylamide particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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