Lignin Films from Spruce, Eucalyptus, and Wheat Straw Studied with Electroacoustic and Optical Sensors: Effect of Composition and Electrostatic Screening on Enzyme Binding
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Lignins were isolated from spruce, wheat straw, and eucalyptus by using the milled wood lignin (MWL) method. Functional groups and compositional analyses were assessed via 2D NMR and 31P NMR to realize their effect on enzyme binding. Films of the lignins were fabricated and ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy, and water contact angle measurements were used for their characterization and to reveal the changes upon enzyme adsorption. Moreover, lignin thin films were deposited on quartz crystal microgravimetry (QCM) and surface plasmon (SPR) resonance sensors and used to gain further insights into the lignin-cellulase interactions. For this purpose, a commercial multicomponent enzyme system and a monocomponent Trichoderma reesei exoglucanase (CBH-I) were considered. Strong enzyme adsorption was observed on the various lignins but compared to the multicomponent cellulases, CBH-I displayed lower surface affinity and higher binding reversibility. This resolved prevalent questions related to the affinity of this enzyme with lignin. Remarkably, a strong correlation between enzyme binding and the syringyl/guaiacyl (S/G) ratio was found for the lignins, which presented a similar hydroxyl group content (31P NMR): higher protein affinity was determined on isolated spruce lignin (99% G units), while the lowest adsorption occurred on isolated eucalyptus lignin (70% S units). The effect of electrostatic interactions in enzyme adsorption was investigated by SPR, which clearly indicated that the screening of charges allowed more extensive protein adsorption. Overall, this work furthers our understanding of lignin-cellulase interactions relevant to biomass that has been subjected to no or little pretreatment and highlights the widely contrasting effects of the nature of lignin, which gives guidance to improve lignocellulosic saccharification and related processes.