In the billion years that bacteriophage (or phage) have existed together with bacteria the phage have evolved systems that may be exploited for our benefit. One of these is the lytic system used by the phage to release their progeny from an infected bacterium. Endolysins (or lysins) are highly evolved enzymes in the lytic system produced to cleave essential bonds in the bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan for progeny release. Small quantities of purified recombinant lysin added externally to gram-positive bacteria results in immediate lysis causing log-fold death of the target bacterium. Lysins have now been used successfully in a variety of animal models to control pathogenic antibiotic resistant bacteria found on mucosal surfaces and in infected tissues. The advantages over antibiotics are their specificity for the pathogen without disturbing the normal flora, the low chance of bacterial resistance, and their ability to kill colonizing pathogens on mucosal surfaces, a capacity previously unavailable. Lysins therefore, may be a much-needed anti-infective (or enzybiotic) in an age of mounting antibiotic resistance.
bacteriophage; endolysin; gram-positive bacteria; lytic enzymes; mucosal colonization; phage; prophylaxis; therapeutic
The bacteriophage ΦCD27 is capable of lysing Clostridium difficile, a pathogenic bacterium that is a major cause for nosocomial infection. A recombinant CD27L endolysin lyses C. difficile in vitro, and represents a promising alternative as a bactericide. To better understand the lysis mechanism, we have determined the crystal structure of an autoproteolytic fragment of the CD27L endolysin. The structure covers the C-terminal domain of the endolysin, and represents a novel fold that is identified in a number of lysins that target Clostridia bacteria. The structure indicates endolysin cleavage occurs at the stem of the linker connecting the catalytic domain with the C-terminal domain. We also solved the crystal structure of the C-terminal domain of a slow cleaving mutant of the CTP1L endolysin that targets C. tyrobutyricum. Two distinct dimerization modes are observed in the crystal structures for both endolysins, despite a sequence identity of only 22% between the domains. The dimers are validated to be present for the full length protein in solution by right angle light scattering, small angle X-ray scattering and cross-linking experiments using the cross-linking amino acid p-benzoyl-L-phenylalanine (pBpa). Mutagenesis on residues contributing to the dimer interfaces indicates that there is a link between the dimerization modes and the autocleavage mechanism. We show that for the CTP1L endolysin, there is a reduction in lysis efficiency that is proportional to the cleavage efficiency. We propose a model for endolysin triggering, where the extended dimer presents the inactive state, and a switch to the side-by-side dimer triggers the cleavage of the C-terminal domain. This leads to the release of the catalytic portion of the endolysin, enabling the efficient digestion of the bacterial cell wall.
Clostridium difficile infection is a common cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea, following broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment particularly in elderly patients. Bacteriophage therapy could provide an alternative treatment, but a better understanding of the viral components that lyse the bacterial cell is necessary. Here, we report on the activation of two endolysins from bacteriophages that lyse Clostridia. The structures of autoproteolytic fragments of two endolysins were determined by X-ray crystallography. Based on the structures, we introduced mutations that affect the autolytic cleavage of the enzymatic portion of the endolysins, and we show that two oligomeric states have an effect on the cleavage mechanism. Moreover, the lysis activity is affected when autocleavage is inhibited for one endolysin. We propose that the cleavage and oligomerization are linked, and they provide the endolysin with a trigger and release mechanism that leads to activation. The identification of a trigger and release factor may not only be relevant to Clostridia endolysins, but could be an important factor in the triggering of many bacteriophage endolysins. A fuller understanding of this activation mechanism will help in the design of recombinant endolysins or bacteriophages with a more efficient therapeutic potential.
Peptidoglycan lytic enzymes (endolysins) induce bacterial host cell lysis in the late phase of the lytic bacteriophage replication cycle. Endolysins OBPgp279 (from Pseudomonas fluorescens phage OBP), PVP-SE1gp146 (Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis phage PVP-SE1) and 201ϕ2-1gp229 (Pseudomonas chlororaphis phage 201ϕ2-1) all possess a modular structure with an N-terminal cell wall binding domain and a C-terminal catalytic domain, a unique property for endolysins with a Gram-negative background. All three modular endolysins showed strong muralytic activity on the peptidoglycan of a broad range of Gram-negative bacteria, partly due to the presence of the cell wall binding domain. In the case of PVP-SE1gp146, this domain shows a binding affinity for Salmonella peptidoglycan that falls within the range of typical cell adhesion molecules (Kaff = 1.26×106 M−1). Remarkably, PVP-SE1gp146 turns out to be thermoresistant up to temperatures of 90°C, making it a potential candidate as antibacterial component in hurdle technology for food preservation. OBPgp279, on the other hand, is suggested to intrinsically destabilize the outer membrane of Pseudomonas species, thereby gaining access to their peptidoglycan and exerts an antibacterial activity of 1 logarithmic unit reduction. Addition of 0.5 mM EDTA significantly increases the antibacterial activity of the three modular endolysins up to 2–3 logarithmic units reduction. This research work offers perspectives towards elucidation of the structural differences explaining the unique biochemical and antibacterial properties of OBPgp279, PVP-SE1gp146 and 201ϕ2-1gp229. Furthermore, these endolysins extensively enlarge the pool of potential antibacterial compounds used against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections.
Endolysins (or lysins) are highly evolved enzymes produced by bacteriophage (phage for short) to digest the bacterial cell wall for phage progeny release. In Gram-positive bacteria, small quantities of purified recombinant lysin added externally results in immediate lysis causing log-fold death of the target bacterium. Lysins have been used successfully in a variety of animal models to control pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on mucosal surfaces and infected tissues. Their specificity for the pathogen without disturbing the normal flora, the low chance of bacterial resistance, and their ability to kill colonizing pathogens on mucosal surfaces, a capacity previously unavailable, make them ideal anti-infectives in an age of mounting resistance. Here we review the current literature showing the effectiveness of these enzymes in controlling a variety of infections.
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin
Artilysins constitute a novel class of efficient enzyme-based antibacterials. Specifically, they covalently combine a bacteriophage-encoded endolysin, which degrades the peptidoglycan, with a targeting peptide that transports the endolysin through the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Art-085, as well as Art-175, its optimized homolog with increased thermostability, are each composed of the sheep myeloid 29-amino acid (SMAP-29) peptide fused to the KZ144 endolysin. In contrast to KZ144, Art-085 and Art-175 pass the outer membrane and kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa, including multidrug-resistant strains, in a rapid and efficient (∼5 log units) manner. Time-lapse microscopy confirms that Art-175 punctures the peptidoglycan layer within 1 min, inducing a bulging membrane and complete lysis. Art-175 is highly refractory to resistance development by naturally occurring mutations. In addition, the resistance mechanisms against 21 therapeutically used antibiotics do not show cross-resistance to Art-175. Since Art-175 does not require an active metabolism for its activity, it has a superior bactericidal effect against P. aeruginosa persisters (up to >4 log units compared to that of the untreated controls). In summary, Art-175 is a novel antibacterial that is well suited for a broad range of applications in hygiene and veterinary and human medicine, with a unique potential to target persister-driven chronic infections.
Bacillus cereus is a foodborne pathogen that causes emetic or diarrheal types of food poisoning. The incidence of B. cereus food poisoning has been gradually increasing over the past few years, therefore, biocontrol agents effective against B. cereus need to be developed. Endolysins are phage-encoded bacterial peptidoglycan hydrolases and have received considerable attention as promising antibacterial agents.
The endolysin from B. cereus phage B4, designated LysB4, was identified and characterized. In silico analysis revealed that this endolysin had the VanY domain at the N terminus as the catalytic domain, and the SH3_5 domain at the C terminus that appears to be the cell wall binding domain. Biochemical characterization of LysB4 enzymatic activity showed that it had optimal peptidoglycan hydrolase activity at pH 8.0-10.0 and 50°C. The lytic activity was dependent on divalent metal ions, especially Zn2+. The antimicrobial spectrum was relatively broad because LysB4 lysed Gram-positive bacteria such as B. cereus, Bacillus subtilis and Listeria monocytogenes and some Gram-negative bacteria when treated with EDTA. LC-MS analysis of the cell wall cleavage products showed that LysB4 was an L-alanoyl-D-glutamate endopeptidase, making LysB4 the first characterized endopeptidase of this type to target B. cereus.
LysB4 is believed to be the first reported L-alanoyl-D-glutamate endopeptidase from B. cereus-infecting bacteriophages. The properties of LysB4 showed that this endolysin has strong lytic activity against a broad range of pathogenic bacteria, which makes LysB4 a good candidate as a biocontrol agent against B. cereus and other pathogenic bacteria.
The global threat to public health posed by emerging multidrug-resistant bacteria in the past few years necessitates the development of novel approaches to combat bacterial infections. Endolysins encoded by bacterial viruses (or phages) represent one promising avenue of investigation. These enzyme-based antibacterials efficiently kill Gram-positive bacteria upon contact by specific cell wall hydrolysis. However, a major hurdle in their exploitation as antibacterials against Gram-negative pathogens is the impermeable lipopolysaccharide layer surrounding their cell wall. Therefore, we developed and optimized an approach to engineer these enzymes as outer membrane-penetrating endolysins (Artilysins), rendering them highly bactericidal against Gram-negative pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii. Artilysins combining a polycationic nonapeptide and a modular endolysin are able to kill these (multidrug-resistant) strains in vitro with a 4 to 5 log reduction within 30 min. We show that the activity of Artilysins can be further enhanced by the presence of a linker of increasing length between the peptide and endolysin or by a combination of both polycationic and hydrophobic/amphipathic peptides. Time-lapse microscopy confirmed the mode of action of polycationic Artilysins, showing that they pass the outer membrane to degrade the peptidoglycan with subsequent cell lysis. Artilysins are effective in vitro (human keratinocytes) and in vivo (Caenorhabditis elegans).
Bacterial resistance to most commonly used antibiotics is a major challenge of the 21st century. Infections that cannot be treated by first-line antibiotics lead to increasing morbidity and mortality, while millions of dollars are spent each year by health care systems in trying to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to prevent cross-transmission of resistance. Endolysins—enzymes derived from bacterial viruses—represent a completely novel, promising class of antibacterials based on cell wall hydrolysis. Specifically, they are active against Gram-positive species, which lack a protective outer membrane and which have a low probability of resistance development. We modified endolysins by protein engineering to create Artilysins that are able to pass the outer membrane and become active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii, two of the most hazardous drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens.
Bacteriophage endolysins have shown great efficacy in killing Gram-positive bacteria. PlyC, a group C streptococcal phage lysin, represents the most efficient lysin characterized to date, with a remarkably high specificity against different streptococcal species, including the important pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. However, PlyC is a unique lysin, in terms of both its high activity and structure (two distinct subunits). We sought to discover and characterize a phage lysin active against S. pyogenes with an endolysin architecture distinct from that of PlyC to determine if it relies on the same mechanism of action as PlyC. In this study, we identified and characterized an endolysin, termed PlyPy (phage lysin from S. pyogenes), from a prophage infecting S. pyogenes. By in silico analysis, PlyPy was found to have a molecular mass of 27.8 kDa and a pI of 4.16. It was active against a majority of group A streptococci and displayed high levels of activity as well as binding specificity against group B and C streptococci, while it was less efficient against other streptococcal species. PlyPy showed the highest activity at neutral pH in the presence of calcium and NaCl. Surprisingly, its activity was not affected by the presence of the group A-specific carbohydrate, while the activity of PlyC was partly inhibited. Additionally, PlyPy was active in vivo and could rescue mice from systemic bacteremia. Finally, we developed a novel method to determine the peptidoglycan bond cleaved by lysins and concluded that PlyPy exhibits a rare d-alanyl-l-alanine endopeptidase activity. PlyPy thus represents the first lysin characterized from Streptococcus pyogenes and has a mechanism of action distinct from that of PlyC.
Lysins are highly evolved enzymes produced by bacteriophage ( phage for short) to digest the bacterial cell wall for phage progeny release. In gram-positive bacteria, small quantities of purified recombinant lysin added externally results in immediate lysis causing log-fold death of the target bacterium. Lysins have been used successfully in a variety of animal models to control pathogenic antibiotic resistant bacteria found on mucosal surfaces and infected tissues. The advantages over antibiotics are their specificity for the pathogen without disturbing the normal flora, the low chance of bacterial resistance to lysins, and their ability to kill colonizing pathogens on mucosal surfaces, a capacity previously unavailable. Thus, lysins may be a much needed anti-infective in an age of mounting antibiotic resistance.
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin; Lytic enzymes; Mucosal colonization; Pathogens; Peptidoglycan
Reduced yields of ethanol due to bacterial contamination in fermentation cultures weaken the economics of biofuel production. Lactic acid bacteria are considered the most problematic, and surveys of commercial fuel ethanol facilities have found that species of Lactobacillus are predominant. Bacteriophage lytic enzymes are peptidoglycan hydrolases that can degrade the Gram positive cell wall when exposed externally and provide a novel source of antimicrobials that are highly refractory to resistance development.
The streptococcal phage LambdaSa2 (λSa2) endolysin demonstrated strong lytic activity towards 17 of 22 strains of lactobacilli, staphylococci or streptococci and maintained an optimal specific activity at pH 5.5 and in the presence of ≤ 5% ethanol (fermentation conditions) toward L. fermentum. Lactobacillus bacteriophage endolysins LysA, LysA2 and LysgaY showed exolytic activity towards 60% of the lactobacilli tested including four L. fermentum isolates from fuel ethanol fermentations. In turbidity reduction assays LysA was able to reduce optical density >75% for 50% of the sensitive strains and >50% for the remaining strains. LysA2 and LysgaY were only able to decrease cellular turbidity by <50%. Optimal specific activities were achieved for LysA, LysA2, and LysgaY at pH 5.5. The presence of ethanol (≤5%) did not reduce the lytic activity. Lysins were able to reduce both L. fermentum (BR0315-1) (λSa2 endolysin) and L. reuteri (B-14171) (LysA) contaminants in mock fermentations of corn fiber hydrolysates.
Bacteriophage lytic enzymes are strong candidates for application as antimicrobials to control lactic acid bacterial contamination in fuel ethanol fermentations.
Bacteriophage; Lysin; endolysin; Peptidoglycan; Ethanol; Fermentation; Contamination; Lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus; Lactobacilli
Bacteriophage endolysins (lysins) bind to a cell wall substrate and cleave peptidoglycan, resulting in hypotonic lysis of the phage-infected bacteria. When purified lysins are added externally to Gram-positive bacteria they mediate rapid death by the same mechanism. For this reason, novel therapeutic strategies have been developed using such enzybiotics. However, like other proteins introduced into mammalian organisms, they are quickly cleared from systemic circulation. PEGylation has been used successfully to increase the in vivo half-life of many biological molecules and was therefore applied to Cpl-1, a lysin specific for S. pneumoniae. Cysteine-specific PEGylation with either PEG 10K or 40K was achieved on Cpl-1 mutants, each containing an additional cysteine residue at different locations To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the PEGylation of bacteriophage lysin. Compared to the native enzyme, none of the PEGylated conjugates retained significant in vitro anti-pneumococcal lytic activity that would have justified further in vivo studies. Since the anti-microbial activity of the mutant enzymes used in this study was not affected by the introduction of the cysteine residue, our results implied that the presence of the PEG molecule was responsible for the inhibition. As most endolysins exhibit a similar modular structure, we believe that our work emphasizes the inability to improve the in vivo half-life of this class of enzybiotics using a cysteine-specific PEGylation strategy.
Bacteriophage; S. pneumoniae; Cpl-1; PEGylation; Endolysin; Enzybiotic
Interest in phage therapy has grown over the past decade due to the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens. However, the use of bacteriophages for therapeutic purposes has raised concerns over the potential for immune response, rapid toxin release by the lytic action of phages, and difficulty in dose determination in clinical situations. A phage that kills the target cell but is incapable of host cell lysis would alleviate these concerns without compromising efficacy.
We developed a recombinant lysis-deficient Staphylococcus aureus phage P954, in which the endolysin gene was rendered nonfunctional by insertional inactivation. P954, a temperate phage, was lysogenized in S. aureus strain RN4220. The native endolysin gene on the prophage was replaced with an endolysin gene disrupted by the chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (cat) gene through homologous recombination using a plasmid construct. Lysogens carrying the recombinant phage were detected by growth in presence of chloramphenicol. Induction of the recombinant prophage did not result in host cell lysis, and the phage progeny were released by cell lysis with glass beads. The recombinant phage retained the endolysin-deficient genotype and formed plaques only when endolysin was supplemented. The host range of the recombinant phage was the same as that of the parent phage. To test the in vivo efficacy of the recombinant endolysin-deficient phage, immunocompromised mice were challenged with pathogenic S. aureus at a dose that results in 80% mortality (LD80). Treatment with the endolysin-deficient phage rescued mice from the fatal S. aureus infection.
A recombinant endolysin-deficient staphylococcal phage has been developed that is lethal to methicillin-resistant S. aureus without causing bacterial cell lysis. The phage was able to multiply in lytic mode utilizing a heterologous endolysin expressed from a plasmid in the propagation host. The recombinant phage effectively rescued mice from fatal S. aureus infection. To our knowledge this is the first report of a lysis-deficient staphylococcal phage.
Mycobacteriophages are dsDNA viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts. The mycobacteriophage Ms6 accomplishes lysis by producing two cell wall hydrolytic enzymes, Lysin A (LysA) that possesses a central peptidoglycan recognition protein (PGRP) super-family conserved domain with the amidase catalytic site, that cleaves the amide bond between the N-acetylmuramic acid and L-alanine residues in the oligopeptide crosslinking chains of the peptidoglycan and Lysin B (LysB) a mycolylarabinogalactan esterase that hydrolyzes the mycolic acids from the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex. Examination of the endolysin (lysA) DNA sequence revealed the existence of an embedded gene (lysA241) encoded in the same reading frame and preceded by a consensus ribosome-binding site. In the present work we show that, even though lysA is essential for Ms6 viability, phage mutants that express only the longer (Lysin384) or the shorter (Lysin241) endolysin are viable, but defective in the normal timing, progression and completion of host cell lysis. In addition, both endolysins have peptidoglycan hydrolase activity and demonstrated broad growth inhibition activity against various Gram-positive bacteria and mycobacteria.
Staphylococcus aureus is a food-borne pathogen and the most common cause of infections in hospitalized patients. The increase in the resistance of this pathogen to antibacterials has made necessary the development of new anti-staphylococcal agents. In this context, bacteriophage lytic enzymes such as endolysins and structural peptidoglycan (PG) hydrolases have received considerable attention as possible antimicrobials against gram-positive bacteria.
S. aureus bacteriophage vB_SauS-phiIPLA88 (phiIPLA88) contains a virion-associated muralytic enzyme (HydH5) encoded by orf58, which is located in the morphogenetic module. Comparative bioinformatic analysis revealed that HydH5 significantly resembled other peptidoglycan hydrolases encoded by staphylococcal phages. The protein consists of 634 amino acid residues. Two putative lytic domains were identified: an N-terminal CHAP (cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolase/peptidase) domain (135 amino acid residues), and a C-terminal LYZ2 (lysozyme subfamily 2) domain (147 amino acid residues). These domains were also found when a predicted three-dimensional structure of HydH5 was made which provided the basis for deletion analysis. The complete HydH5 protein and truncated proteins containing only each catalytic domain were overproduced in E. coli and purified from inclusion bodies by subsequent refolding. Truncated and full-length HydH5 proteins were all able to bind and lyse S. aureus Sa9 cells as shown by binding assays, zymogram analyses and CFU reduction analysis. HydH5 demonstrated high antibiotic activity against early exponential cells, at 45°C and in the absence of divalent cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Mn2+). Thermostability assays showed that HydH5 retained 72% of its activity after 5 min at 100°C.
The virion-associated PG hydrolase HydH5 has lytic activity against S. aureus, which makes it attractive as antimicrobial for food biopreservation and anti-staphylococcal therapy.
Bacteriophage endolysins are peptidoglycan hydrolases employed by the virus to lyse the host at the end of its multiplication phase. They have found many uses in biotechnology; not only as antimicrobials, but also for the development of novel diagnostic tools for rapid detection of pathogenic bacteria. These enzymes generally show a modular organization, consisting of N‐terminal enzymatically active domains (EADs) and C‐terminal cell wall‐binding domains (CBDs) which specifically target the enzymes to their substrate in the bacterial cell envelope. In this work, we used individual functional modules of Listeria phage endolysins to create fusion proteins with novel and optimized properties for labelling and lysis of Listeria cells. Chimaeras consisting of individual EAD and CBD modules from PlyPSA and Ply118 endolysins with different binding specificity and catalytic activity showed swapped properties. EAD118–CBDPSA fusion proteins exhibited up to threefold higher lytic activity than the parental endolysins. Recombineering different CBD domains targeting various Listeria cell surfaces into novel heterologous tandem proteins provided them with extended recognition and binding properties, as demonstrated by fluorescent GFP‐tagged CBD fusions. It was also possible to combine the binding specificities of different single CBDs in heterologous tandem CBD constructs such as CBD500‐P35 and CBDP35‐500, which were then able to recognize the majority of Listeria strains. Duplication of CBD500 increased the equilibrium cell wall binding affinity by approximately 50‐fold, and the enzyme featuring tandem CBD modules showed increased activity at higher ionic strength. Our results demonstrate that modular engineering of endolysins is a powerful approach for the rational design and optimization of desired functional properties of these proteins.
With their ability to lyse Gram-positive bacteria, phage lytic enzymes (or lysins) have received a great deal of attention as novel anti-infective agents. The number of known genes encoding these peptidoglycan hydrolases has increased markedly in recent years, due in large part to advances in DNA sequencing technology. As the genomes of more and more bacterial species/strains are sequenced, lysin-encoding open reading frames (ORFs) can be readily identified in lysogenized prophage regions. In the current study, we sought to assess lysin diversity for the medically relevant pathogen Clostridium perfringens. The sequenced genomes of nine C. perfringens strains were computationally mined for prophage lysins and lysin-like ORFs, revealing several dozen proteins of various enzymatic classes. Of these lysins, a muramidase from strain ATCC 13124 (termed PlyCM) was chosen for recombinant analysis based on its dissimilarity to previously characterized C. perfringens lysins. Following expression and purification, various biochemical properties of PlyCM were determined in vitro, including pH/salt-dependence and temperature stability. The enzyme exhibited activity at low µg/ml concentrations, a typical value for phage lysins. It was active against 23 of 24 strains of C. perfringens tested, with virtually no activity against other clostridial or nonclostridial species. Overall, PlyCM shows potential for development as an enzybiotic agent, demonstrating how expanding genomic databases can serve as rich pools for biotechnologically relevant proteins.
Lysin; Prophage; Enzybiotic; Muramidase; Clostridium perfringens
Group B streptococci (GBS) are the leading cause of neonatal meningitis and sepsis worldwide. The current treatment strategy is limited to intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis in pregnant women to prevent early-onset neonatal diseases, but considering the potential for antibiotic resistance, the risk of losing control over the disease is high. To approach this problem, we have developed a bacteriophage (phage) lytic enzyme to remove colonizing GBS. Bacteriophage muralytic enzymes, termed lysins, are highly evolved molecules designed to degrade the cell wall of host bacteria to release phage particles from the bacterial cytoplasm. Several different lysins have been developed to specifically kill bacterial pathogens both on mucosal surfaces and in blood and represent a novel approach to control infection. A lysin cloned from a phage infecting GBS was found to contain two putative catalytic domains and one putative binding domain, which is similar to the domain organization of some staphylococcal phage lysins. The lysin (named PlyGBS) was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli, and purified PlyGBS efficiently killed all tested GBS serotypes in vitro. In a mouse model, a single dose of PlyGBS significantly reduced bacterial colonization in both the vagina and oropharynx. As an alternative strategy for intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis, this approach may be used to reduce vaginal GBS colonization in pregnant women before delivery or to decontaminate newborns, thus reducing the incidence of GBS-associated neonatal meningitis and sepsis.
Lysins are phage-encoded, peptidoglycan (cell wall) hydrolases that accumulate in the bacterial cytoplasm during a lytic infection cycle. Late during infection, the lysins undergo holin-mediated translocation across the inner membrane into the peptidoglycan matrix where they cleave cell wall covalent bonds required for wall stability and allow bacterial lysis and progeny phage release. This potent hydrolytic activity is now the foundation of a powerful genetic-based screening process for the identification and analysis of phage lysin proteins. Here, we describe a method for identifying a lysin, PlyG, from a bacteriophage that specifically infects the Gram-positive organism Bacillus anthracis, however, the techniques described can be adapted to clone, express and analyze lysins from any phage infecting Gram-positive bacteria or possibly even Gram-negative bacteria.
lysin; hydrolase; cell wall; peptidoglycan; lysozyme; Gram-positive; antimicrobial; diagnostic; expression library
Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen, with methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and multi-drug resistant strains becoming increasingly prevalent in both human and veterinary clinics. S. aureus causing bovine mastitis yields high annual losses to the dairy industry. Conventional treatment of mastitis by broad range antibiotics is often not successful and may contribute to development of antibiotic resistance. Bacteriophage endolysins present a promising new source of antimicrobials. The endolysin of prophage ΦSH2 of Staphylococcus haemolyticus strain JCSC1435 (ΦSH2 lysin) is a peptidoglycan hydrolase consisting of two catalytic domains (CHAP and amidase) and an SH3b cell wall binding domain. In this work, we demonstrated its lytic activity against live staphylococcal cells and investigated the contribution of each functional module to bacterial lysis by testing a series of deletion constructs in zymograms and turbidity reduction assays. The CHAP domain exhibited three-fold higher activity than the full length protein and optimum activity in physiological saline. This activity was further enhanced by the presence of bivalent calcium ions. The SH3b domain was shown to be required for full activity of the complete ΦSH2 lysin. The full length enzyme and the CHAP domain showed activity against multiple staphylococcal strains, including MRSA strains, mastitis isolates, and CoNS.
mastitis; phage endolysin; coagulase negative staphylococci
Treatment of bovine mastitis caused by Staphylococcus (S.) aureus is becoming very difficult due to the emergence of multidrug-resistant strains. Hence, the search for novel therapeutic alternatives has become of great importance. Consequently, bacteriophages and their endolysins have been identified as potential therapeutic alternatives to antibiotic therapy against S. aureus. In the present study, the gene encoding lysin (LysSA4) in S. aureus phage SA4 was cloned and the nucleotide sequence was determined. Sequence analysis of the recombinant clone revealed a single 802-bp open reading frame encoding a partial protein with a calculated mass of 30 kDa. Results of this analysis also indicated that the LysSA4 sequence shared a high homology with endolysin of the GH15 phage and other reported phages. The LysSA4 gene of the SA4 phage was subsequently expressed in Escherichia coli. Recombinant LysSA4 induced the lysis of host bacteria in a spot inoculation test, indicating that the protein was expressed and functionally active. Furthermore, recombinant lysin was found to have lytic activity, albeit a low level, against mastitogenic Staphylococcus isolates of bovine origin. Data from the current study can be used to develop therapeutic tools for treating diseases caused by drug-resistant S. aureus strains.
lysin; mastitis; phage; Staphylococcus aureus
There has been a resurgent interest in the use of bacteriophages or their gene products to control bacterial pathogens as alternatives to currently used antibiotics. Clostridium perfringens is a gram-positive, spore-forming anaerobic bacterium that plays a significant role in human foodborne disease as well as nonfoodborne human, animal, and avian diseases. Countries that have complied with the ban on antimicrobial growth promoters in feeds have reported increased incidences of C. perfringens-associated diseases in poultry. To address these issues, new antimicrobial agents, putative lysins encoded by the genomes of bacteriophages, are being identified in our laboratory. Poultry intestinal material, soil, sewage, and poultry processing drainage water were screened for virulent bacteriophages that could lyse C. perfringens and produce clear plaques in spot assays. Bacteriophages were isolated that had long noncontractile tails, members of the family Siphoviridae, and with short noncontractile tails, members of the family Podoviridae. Several bacteriophage genes were identified that encoded N-acetylmuramoyl-l-alanine amidases, lysozyme-endopeptidases, and a zinc carboxypeptidase domain that has not been previously reported in viral genomes. Putative phage lysin genes (ply) were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The recombinant lysins were amidases capable of lysing both parental phage host strains of C. perfringens as well as other strains of the bacterium in spot and turbidity reduction assays, but did not lyse any clostridia beyond the species. Consequently, bacteriophage gene products could eventually be used to target bacterial pathogens, such as C. perfringens via a species-specific strategy, to control animal and human diseases without having deleterious effects on beneficial probiotic bacteria.
enzybiotic; antibiotic alternative; bacterial virus; food safety; animal/human health
The increased incidence of bacterial antibiotic resistance has led to a renewed search for novel antimicrobials. Avoiding the use of broad-range antimicrobials through the use of specific peptidoglycan hydrolases (endolysins) might reduce the incidence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens worldwide. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus agalactiae are human pathogens and also cause mastitis in dairy cattle. The ultimate goal of this work is to create transgenic cattle that are resistant to mastitis through the expression of an antimicrobial protein(s) in their milk. Toward this end, two novel antimicrobials were produced. The (i) full-length and (ii) 182-amino-acid, C-terminally truncated S. agalactiae bacteriophage B30 endolysins were fused to the mature lysostaphin protein of Staphylococcus simulans. Both fusions display lytic specificity for streptococcal pathogens and S. aureus. The full lytic ability of the truncated B30 protein also suggests that the SH3b domain at the C terminus is dispensable. The fusions are active in a milk-like environment. They are also active against some lactic acid bacteria used to make cheese and yogurt, but their lytic activity is destroyed by pasteurization (63°C for 30 min). Immunohistochemical studies indicated that the fusion proteins can be expressed in cultured mammalian cells with no obvious deleterious effects on the cells, making it a strong candidate for use in future transgenic mice and cattle. Since the fusion peptidoglycan hydrolase also kills multiple human pathogens, it also may prove useful as a highly selective, multipathogen-targeting antimicrobial agent that could potentially reduce the use of broad-range antibiotics in fighting clinical infections.
Staphylococci cause bovine mastitis, with Staphylococcus aureus being responsible for the majority of the mastitis-based losses to the dairy industry (up to $2 billion/annum). Treatment is primarily with antibiotics, which are often ineffective and potentially contribute to resistance development. Bacteriophage endolysins (peptidoglycan hydrolases) present a promising source of alternative antimicrobials. Here we evaluated two fusion proteins consisting of the streptococcal λSA2 endolysin endopeptidase domain fused to staphylococcal cell wall binding domains from either lysostaphin (λSA2-E-Lyso-SH3b) or the staphylococcal phage K endolysin, LysK (λSA2-E-LysK-SH3b). We demonstrate killing of 16 different S. aureus mastitis isolates, including penicillin-resistant strains, by both constructs. At 100 μg/ml in processed cow milk, λSA2-E-Lyso-SH3b and λSA2-E-LysK-SH3b reduced the S. aureus bacterial load by 3 and 1 log units within 3 h, respectively, compared to a buffer control. In contrast to λSA2-E-Lyso-SH3b, however, λSA2-E-LysK-SH3b permitted regrowth of the pathogen after 1 h. In a mouse model of mastitis, infusion of 25 μg of λSA2-E-Lyso-SH3b or λSA2-E-LysK-SH3b into mammary glands reduced S. aureus CFU by 0.63 or 0.81 log units, compared to >2 log for lysostaphin. Both chimeras were synergistic with lysostaphin against S. aureus in plate lysis checkerboard assays. When tested in combination in mice, λSA2-E-LysK-SH3b and lysostaphin (12.5 μg each/gland) caused a 3.36-log decrease in CFU. Furthermore, most protein treatments reduced gland wet weights and intramammary tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) concentrations, which serve as indicators of inflammation. Overall, our animal model results demonstrate the potential of fusion peptidoglycan hydrolases as antimicrobials for the treatment of S. aureus-induced mastitis.
Phage endolysins are murein hydrolases that break the bacterial cell wall to provoke lysis and release of phage progeny. Recently, these enzymes have also been recognized as powerful and specific antibacterial agents when added exogenously. In the pneumococcal system, most cell wall associated murein hydrolases reported so far depend on choline for activity, and Cpl-7 lysozyme constitutes a remarkable exception. Here, we report the improvement of the killing activity of the Cpl-7 endolysin by inversion of the sign of the charge of the cell wall-binding module (from −14.93 to +3.0 at neutral pH). The engineered variant, Cpl-7S, has 15 amino acid substitutions and an improved lytic activity against Streptococcus pneumoniae (including multiresistant strains), Streptococcus pyogenes, and other pathogens. Moreover, we have demonstrated that a single 25-μg dose of Cpl-7S significantly increased the survival rate of zebrafish embryos infected with S. pneumoniae or S. pyogenes, confirming the killing effect of Cpl-7S in vivo. Interestingly, Cpl-7S, in combination with 0.01% carvacrol (an essential oil), was also found to efficiently kill Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas putida, an effect not described previously. Our findings provide a strategy to improve the lytic activity of phage endolysins based on facilitating their pass through the negatively charged bacterial envelope, and thereby their interaction with the cell wall target, by modulating the net charge of the cell wall-binding modules.
Enterococcus faecalis is increasingly becoming an important nosocomial infection opportunistic pathogen. E. faecalis can easily obtain drug resistance, making it difficult to be controlled in clinical settings. Using bacteriophage as an alternative treatment to drug-resistant bacteria has been revitalized recently, especially for fighting drug-resistant bacteria. In this research, an E. faecalis bacteriophage named IME-EF1 was isolated from hospital sewage. Whole genomic sequence analysis demonstrated that the isolated IME-EF1 belong to the Siphoviridae family, and has a linear double-stranded DNA genome consisting of 57,081 nucleotides. The IME-EF1 genome has a 40.04% G+C content and contains 98 putative coding sequences. In addition, IME-EF1 has an isometric head with a width of 35 nm to 60 nm and length of 75 nm to 90 nm, as well as morphology resembling a tadpole. IME-EF1 can adsorb to its host cells within 9 min, with an absorbance rate more than 99% and a latent period time of 25 min. The endolysin of IME-EF1 contains a CHAP domain in its N-terminal and has a wider bactericidal spectrum than its parental bacteriophage, including 2 strains of vancomycin-resistant E. faecalis. When administrated intraperitoneally, one dose of IME-EF1 or its endolysin can reduce bacterial count in the blood and protected the mice from a lethal challenge of E. faecalis, with a survival rate of 60% or 80%, respectively. Although bacteriophage could rescue mice from bacterial challenge, to the best of our knowledge, this study further supports the potential function of bacteriophage in dealing with E. faecalis infection in vivo. The results also indicated that the newly isolated bacteriophage IME-EF1 enriched the arsenal library of lytic E. faecalis bacteriophages and presented another choice for phage therapy in the future.