Labeling the planar face of crystalline cellulose using quantum dots directed by type-I carbohydrate-binding modules

Qi Xu, Melvin P. Tucker, Phil Arenkiel, Xin Ai, Garry Rumbles, Junji Sugiyama, Michael E. Himmel, Shi You Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


We report a new method for the direct labeling and visualization of crystalline cellulose using quantum dots (QDs) directed by carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs). Two type-I (surface binding) CBMs belonging to families 2 and 3a were cloned and expressed with dual histidine tags at the N- and C-termini. Semiconductor (CdSe)ZnS QDs were used to label these CBMs following their binding to Valonia cellulose crystals. Using this approach, we demonstrated that QDs are linearly arrayed on cellulose, which implies that these CBMs specifically bind to a planar face of cellulose. Direct imaging has further shown that different sizes (colors) of QDs can be used to label CBMs bound to cellulose. Furthermore, the binding density of QDs arrayed on cellulose was modified predictably by selecting from various combinations of CBMs and QDs of known dimensions. This approach should be useful for labeling and imaging cellulose-containing materials precisely at the molecular scale, thereby supporting studies of the molecular mechanisms of lignocellulose conversion for biofuels production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009



  • Carbohydrate-binding modules
  • Crystalline cellulose
  • Microscopy
  • Nanoscale imaging
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics

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