Buy article online - an online subscription or single-article purchase is required to access this article.
Download citation
Download citation
link to html
Microorganisms that degrade biomass produce diverse assortments of carbohydrate-active enzymes and binding modules. Despite tremendous advances in the genomic sequencing of these organisms, many genes do not have an ascribed function owing to low sequence identity to genes that have been annotated. Consequently, biochemical and structural characterization of genes with unknown function is required to complement the rapidly growing pool of genomic sequencing data. A protein with previously unknown function (Cthe_2159) was recently isolated in a genome-wide screen using phage display to identify cellulose-binding protein domains from the biomass-degrading bacterium Clostridium thermocellum. Here, the crystal structure of Cthe_2159 is presented and it is shown that it is a unique right-handed parallel β-helix protein. Despite very low sequence identity to known β-helix or carbohydrate-active proteins, Cthe_2159 displays structural features that are very similar to those of polysaccharide lyase (PL) families 1, 3, 6 and 9. Cthe_2159 is conserved across bacteria and some archaea and is a member of the domain of unknown function family DUF4353. This suggests that Cthe_2159 is the first representative of a previously unknown family of cellulose and/or acid-sugar binding β-helix proteins that share structural similarities with PLs. Importantly, these results demonstrate how functional annotation by biochemical and structural analysis remains a critical tool in the characterization of new gene products.

Supporting information


Portable Document Format (PDF) file
Supporting Information.

PDB references: Cthe_2159, gadolinium derivative, 4phb; native form with calcium bound, 4peu

Subscribe to Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography

The full text of this article is available to subscribers to the journal.

If you have already registered and are using a computer listed in your registration details, please email for assistance.

Buy online

You may purchase this article in PDF and/or HTML formats. For purchasers in the European Community who do not have a VAT number, VAT will be added at the local rate. Payments to the IUCr are handled by WorldPay, who will accept payment by credit card in several currencies. To purchase the article, please complete the form below (fields marked * are required), and then click on `Continue'.
E-mail address* 
Repeat e-mail address* 
(for error checking) 

Format*   PDF (US $40)
   HTML (US $40)
   PDF+HTML (US $50)
In order for VAT to be shown for your country javascript needs to be enabled.

VAT number 
(non-UK EC countries only) 

Terms and conditions of use
Contact us

Follow Acta Cryst. D
Sign up for e-alerts
Follow Acta Cryst. on Twitter
Follow us on facebook
Sign up for RSS feeds