Characterization of the l-arabinofuranose-specific GafABCD ABC transporter essential for l-arabinose-dependent growth of the lignocellulose-degrading bacterium Shewanella sp. ANA-3

Konstantinos Drousiotis, Reyme Herman, Judith Hawkhead, Andrew Leech, Anthony Wilkinson, Gavin H Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbes that have evolved to live on lignocellulosic biomass face unique challenges in the effective and efficient use of this material as food. The bacterium Shewanella sp. ANA-3 has the potential to utilize arabinan and arabinoxylan, and uptake of the monosaccharide, l-arabinose, derived from these polymers, is known to be mediated by a single ABC transporter. We demonstrate that the substrate binding protein of this system, GafASw, binds specifically to l-arabinofuranose, which is the rare furanose form of l-arabinose found in lignocellulosic biomass. The structure of GafASw was resolved to 1.7 Å and comparison to Escherichia coli YtfQ (GafAEc) revealed binding site adaptations that confer specificity for furanose over pyranose forms of monosaccharides, while selecting arabinose over another related monosaccharide, galactose. The discovery of a bacterium with a natural predilection for a sugar found abundantly in certain lignocellulosic materials suggests an intimate connection in the enzymatic release and uptake of the sugar, perhaps to prevent other microbes scavenging this nutrient before it mutarotates to l-arabinopyranose. This biological discovery also provides a clear route to engineer more efficient utilization of plant biomass components in industrial biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobiology (Reading, England)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors


  • Arabinose/metabolism
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters/genetics
  • Shewanella/metabolism
  • Escherichia coli/genetics

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