Lactose is the most abundant by-product of the dairy industry and is increasingly recognized as an important feedstock to produce value-added compounds. Lactulose and epilactose are valuable prebiotics that can be generated from lactose with cellobiose 2-epimerases (CEases). Here we describe the characterization of the two CEases CbCEP and RfCEP, originated from the thermophilic microorganism Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and the mesophilic microorganism Roseburia faecis, respectively. CbCEP showed exceptional pH and temperature stability, with maximal activity at pH 7.5 and 70 °C. RfCEP exhibited maximum activity at 50 °C and pH 8. Under optimal conditions in small-scale experiments with commercial lactose, CbCEP produced both lactulose and epilactose with yields of 29.8% and 21.6%, respectively, while RfCEP produced only epilactose with a yield of 19.3%. Furthermore, we evaluated the application of CbCEP for lactulose and epilactose production in stirred fermenters at two different temperatures (70 and 30 °C) at a scale of 5 L volume and a concentration of cheese-whey permeate of 50 g/L. At 70 °C, lactulose was the predominant product of CbCEP-mediated lactose conversion, with a final yield of 30% (12.8 g/L) lactulose and 24.7% (10.6 g/L) epilactose. At 30 °C, lactose was mainly converted into epilactose, with a final yield of 35% (14.9 g/L), and a minor amount of lactulose (final yield of 4.3%, 1.8 g/L). The findings presented here may guide the design of an industrial strategy, based on the temperature-tunable activity of CbCEP, for production of valuable lactose derivatives at high yields directly from whey permeate.
Read full text: John Kristian Jameson, Geir Mathiesen, Phillip B. Pope, Bjørge Westereng, Sabina Leanti La Rosa, Biochemical characterization of two cellobiose 2-epimerases and application for efficient production of lactulose and epilactose, Current Research in Biotechnology, Volume 3, 2021, Pages 57-64, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbiot.2021.02.003
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