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Tunable Semicrystalline Thin Film Cellulose Substrate for High-Resolution, In-Situ AFM Characterization of Enzymatic Cellulose Degradation

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posted on 23.12.2015, 00:00 authored by Thomas Ganner, Stephanie Roŝker, Manuel Eibinger, Johanna Kraxner, Jürgen Sattelkow, Johannes Rattenberger, Harald Fitzek, Boril Chernev, Werner Grogger, Bernd Nidetzky, Harald Plank
In the field of enzymatic cellulose degradation, fundamental interactions between different enzymes and polymorphic cellulose materials are of essential importance but still not understood in full detail. One technology with the potential of direct visualization of such bioprocesses is atomic force microscopy (AFM) due to its capability of real-time in situ investigations with spatial resolutions down to the molecular scale. To exploit the full capabilities of this technology and unravel fundamental enzyme–cellulose bioprocesses, appropriate cellulose substrates are decisive. In this study, we introduce a semicrystalline-thin-film-cellulose (SCFTC) substrate which fulfills the strong demands on such ideal cellulose substrates by means of (1) tunable polymorphism via variable contents of homogeneously sized cellulose nanocrystals embedded in an amorphous cellulose matrix; (2) nanoflat surface topology for high-resolution and high-speed AFM; and (3) fast, simple, and reproducible fabrication. The study starts with a detailed description of SCTFC preparation protocols including an in-depth material characterization. In the second part, we demonstrate the suitability of SCTFC substrates for enzymatic degradation studies by combined, individual, and sequential exposure to TrCel6A/TrCel7A cellulases (Trichoderma reesei) to visualize synergistic effects down to the nanoscale.