Department: School of Molecular Cell Biology & Biotechnology
Faculty: Life Sciences
Tel Aviv University

Prof. Lamed Raphael

My research interests include:

  • Biomass to Biofuels:  Our interest and research is in conversion of biomass to biofuels and also useful intermediate commodity chemicals.The ability of cellulolytic bacteria to degrade cellulose can potentially be used for the degradation of organic matter in garbage and for production of biofuels from waste, which is a major environmental challenge of our time. We are mainly involved in basic scientific research for a clean energy future and an alternative energy research initiative.  We have developed a novel approach to mimic a natural multi-enzyme protein complex – the cellulosome – and have achieved a new generation of designer cellulosomes for conversion of the biomass (ligno-cellulosic) to value added products. Many of our research efforts have been recognized and cited by bio-based industries in their standard operation protocols.
  • Bacteria can degrade cellulose via large multi-enzyme complexes – Cellulosomes:The cellulases of many cellulolytic bacteria were shown by us to be organized into discrete multienzyme complexes, called  cellulosomes.  The cellulosomes are associated with the cell surface and mediate cell attachment to the insoluble substrate and degrade it into soluble products which are then absorbed by the cell.
  • Microbial Biomass Sensors: A Novel Transcription Regulatory System in Cellulolytic Bacteria:  Some cellulolytic bacteria, such as Clostridium thermocellum produce extracellular multi-enzyme systems, highlighted by the cellulosome complex, for degradation of plant cell wall polysaccharides and cellulosic wastes. Such bacteria can produce over 70 different enzyme components, which include cellulases, xylanases, mannanases, arabinases, galactanases, carbohydrate esterases and pectin-degrading enzymes. However, it is not known how the bacterium decides which enzymes are incorporated into the cellulosome.
  • X-ray crystallography and 3-D structure solution:  We are focusing on the crystallization and elucidation of the 3D structures of CBMs, enzymes, cellulosomal components and parts of the biomass-sensing regulatory system. Resolving the 3D protein structure will help us to reveal its function and mode of action. Moreover it sheds light on the mechanism of protein-protein and protein-substrate interactions.

For a full research description (pdf)

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