Chemical synthesis of native-type cellulose and its analogues via enzymatic polymerization

Shiro Kobayashi, Etsuya Okamoto, Xin Wen, Shin Ichiro Shoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The first successful chemical synthesis of cellulose was achieved by a polycondensation of β-cellobiosyl fluoride monomer catalyzed with cellulase, an extracellular hydrolytic enzyme of cellulose, in a mixed solvent of acetonitrile and acetate buffer. The product, synthetic cellulose, was the crystalline allomorph cellulose II, a thermodynamically more stable form. More detailed examinations of the polymerization conditions led to the formation of the native cellulose I, a metastable allomorph, for the first time. The key to the success was to use partially purified cellulase and an appropriate mixed solvent of acetonitrile/ buffer. The formation of the two allomorphs of cellulose implies that the polarity of the glucan chain ordering can be controlled in a test tube. Based on these findings, a new concept "choroselectivity," meaning spacial control in ordering the macromolecular chain, has been proposed. Cellulose analogues, 6-O-methylated cellulose and xylan, have been synthesized regio- and stereoselectively by using the enzymatic polymerization technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1384
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Macromolecular Science - Pure and Applied Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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