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1.  Exploiting what phage have evolved to control gram-positive pathogens 
Bacteriophage  2011;1(4):188-194.
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.
PMCID: PMC3448103  PMID: 23050211
bacteriophage; endolysin; gram-positive bacteria; lytic enzymes; mucosal colonization; phage; prophylaxis; therapeutic
2.  The CD27L and CTP1L Endolysins Targeting Clostridia Contain a Built-in Trigger and Release Factor 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(7):e1004228.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC4110038  PMID: 25058163
3.  Characterization of Modular Bacteriophage Endolysins from Myoviridae Phages OBP, 201ϕ2-1 and PVP-SE1 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36991.
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.
PMCID: PMC3352856  PMID: 22615864
4.  Bacteriophage endolysins: A novel anti-infective to control Gram-positive pathogens 
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.
PMCID: PMC3666336  PMID: 20452280
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin
5.  Characterization of LysB4, an endolysin from the Bacillus cereus-infecting bacteriophage B4 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:33.
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.
PMCID: PMC3315420  PMID: 22416675
6.  A Highly Active and Negatively Charged Streptococcus pyogenes Lysin with a Rare d-Alanyl-l-Alanine Endopeptidase Activity Protects Mice against Streptococcal Bacteremia 
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.
PMCID: PMC4068442  PMID: 24637688
7.  Bacteriophages and Phage-Derived Proteins – Application Approaches 
Current Medicinal Chemistry  2015;22(14):1757-1773.
Currently, the bacterial resistance, especially to most commonly used antibiotics has proved to be a severe therapeutic problem. Nosocomial and community-acquired infections are usually caused by multidrug resistant strains. Therefore, we are forced to develop an alternative or supportive treatment for successful cure of life-threatening infections. The idea of using natural bacterial pathogens such as bacteriophages is already well known. Many papers have been published proving the high antibacterial efficacy of lytic phages tested in animal models as well as in the clinic. Researchers have also investigated the application of non-lytic phages and temperate phages, with promising results. Moreover, the development of molecular biology and novel generation methods of sequencing has opened up new possibilities in the design of engineered phages and recombinant phage-derived proteins. Encouraging performances were noted especially for phage enzymes involved in the first step of viral infection responsible for bacterial envelope degradation, named depolymerases. There are at least five major groups of such enzymes – peptidoglycan hydrolases, endosialidases, endorhamnosidases, alginate lyases and hyaluronate lyases – that have application potential. There is also much interest in proteins encoded by lysis cassette genes (holins, endolysins, spanins) responsible for progeny release during the phage lytic cycle. In this review, we discuss several issues of phage and phage-derived protein application approaches in therapy, diagnostics and biotechnology in general.
PMCID: PMC4468916  PMID: 25666799
Bacteriophage application; endolysins; holins; phage-encoded proteins; polysaccharide depolymerases; spanins.
8.  Art-175 Is a Highly Efficient Antibacterial against Multidrug-Resistant Strains and Persisters of Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
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.
PMCID: PMC4068523  PMID: 24752267
9.  PL3 Amidase, a Tailor-made Lysin Constructed by Domain Shuffling with Potent Killing Activity against Pneumococci and Related Species 
The emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is pushing the need of alternative treatments. In this context, phage therapy is already a reality to successfully fight certain multiresistant bacteria. Among different phage gene products, murein hydrolases responsible of phage progeny liberation (also called lysins or endolysins) are weapons that target specific peptidoglycan bonds, leading to lysis and death of susceptible bacteria when added from the outside. In the pneumococcal system, all but one phage murein hydrolases reported to date share a choline-binding domain that recognizes cell walls containing choline residues in the (lipo)teichoic acids. Some purified pneumococcal or phage murein hydrolases, as well as several chimeric proteins combining natural catalytic and cell wall-binding domains (CBDs) have been used as effective antimicrobials. In this work we have constructed a novel chimeric N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase (PL3) by fusing the catalytic domain of the Pal amidase (a phage-coded endolysin) to the CBD of the LytA amidase, the major pneumococcal autolysin. The physicochemical properties of PL3 and the bacteriolytic effect against several pneumococci (including 48 multiresistant representative strain) and related species, like Streptococcus pseudopneumoniae, Streptococcus mitis, and Streptococcus oralis, have been studied. Results have shown that low doses of PL3, in the range of 0.5–5 μg/ml, are enough to practically sterilize all choline-containing strains tested. Moreover, a single 20-μg dose of PL3 fully protected zebrafish embryos from infection by S. pneumoniae D39 strain. Importantly, PL3 keeps 95% enzymatic activity after 4 weeks at 37°C and can be lyophilized without losing activity, demonstrating a remarkable robustness. Such stability, together with a prominent efficacy against a narrow spectrum of human pathogens, confers to PL3 the characteristic to be an effective therapeutic. In addition, our results demonstrate that the structure/function-based domain shuffling approach is a successful method to construct tailor-made endolysins with higher bactericidal activities than their parental enzymes.
PMCID: PMC4963390  PMID: 27516758
lysin; pneumococcus; phage therapy; chimeric protein; Streptococcus oralis; Streptococcus mitis; Streptococcus pseudopneumoniae
10.  Antibacterial Activity of a Novel Peptide-Modified Lysin Against Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
The global emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria is a growing threat to public health worldwide. Natural bacteriophage lysins are promising alternatives in the treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive pathogens, but not Gram-negative ones, like Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, due to the barriers posed by their outer membranes. Recently, modifying a natural lysin with an antimicrobial peptide was found able to break the barriers, and to kill Gram-negative pathogens. Herein, a new peptide-modified lysin (PlyA) was constructed by fusing the cecropin A peptide residues 1–8 (KWKLFKKI) with the OBPgp279 lysin and its antibacterial activity was studied. PlyA showed good and broad antibacterial activities against logarithmic phase A. baumannii and P. aeruginosa, but much reduced activities against the cells in stationary phase. Addition of outer membrane permeabilizers (EDTA and citric acid) could enhance the antibacterial activity of PlyA against stationary phase cells. Finally, no antibacterial activity of PlyA could be observed in some bio-matrices, such as culture media, milk, and sera. In conclusion, we reported here a novel peptide-modified lysin with significant antibacterial activity against both logarithmic (without OMPs) and stationary phase (with OMPs) A. baumannii and P. aeruginosa cells in buffer, but further optimization is needed to achieve broad activity in diverse bio-matrices.
PMCID: PMC4686776  PMID: 26733995
bacteriophage lysin; engineered lysin; Acinetobacter baumannii; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; outer membrane permeabilizers (OMPs)
11.  PEGylating a bacteriophage endolysin inhibits its bactericidal activity 
AMB Express  2011;1:29.
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.
PMCID: PMC3222324  PMID: 21982426
Bacteriophage; S. pneumoniae; Cpl-1; PEGylation; Endolysin; Enzybiotic
12.  Lysis-deficient phages as novel therapeutic agents for controlling bacterial infection 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:195.
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.
PMCID: PMC3224134  PMID: 21880144
13.  A Second Endolysin Gene Is Fully Embedded In-Frame with the lysA Gene of Mycobacteriophage Ms6 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20515.
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.
PMCID: PMC3111421  PMID: 21694774
14.  Engineered Endolysin-Based “Artilysins” To Combat Multidrug-Resistant Gram-Negative Pathogens 
mBio  2014;5(4):e01379-14.
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.
PMCID: PMC4161244  PMID: 24987094
15.  Domain shuffling and module engineering of Listeria phage endolysins for enhanced lytic activity and binding affinity 
Microbial Biotechnology  2011;4(5):651-662.
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.
PMCID: PMC3819014  PMID: 21535426
16.  Lytic activity of the virion-associated peptidoglycan hydrolase HydH5 of Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophage vB_SauS-phiIPLA88 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:138.
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.
PMCID: PMC3150257  PMID: 21682850
17.  Bacteriophage-encoded lytic enzymes control growth of contaminating Lactobacillus found in fuel ethanol fermentations 
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.
PMCID: PMC3646710  PMID: 23390890
Bacteriophage; Lysin; endolysin; Peptidoglycan; Ethanol; Fermentation; Contamination; Lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus; Lactobacilli
18.  Bacteriophage Lysins as Effective Antibacterials 
Current opinion in microbiology  2008;11(5):393-400.
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.
PMCID: PMC2597892  PMID: 18824123
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin; Lytic enzymes; Mucosal colonization; Pathogens; Peptidoglycan
19.  Antimicrobial bacteriophage-derived proteins and therapeutic applications 
Bacteriophage  2015;5(3):e1062590.
Antibiotics have the remarkable power to control bacterial infections. Unfortunately, widespread use, whether regarded as prudent or not, has favored the emergence and persistence of antibiotic resistant strains of human pathogenic bacteria, resulting in a global health threat. Bacteriophages (phages) are parasites that invade the cells of virtually all known bacteria. Phages reproduce by utilizing the host cell's machinery to replicate viral proteins and genomic material, generally damaging and killing the cell in the process. Thus, phage can be exploited therapeutically as bacteriolytic agents against bacteria. Furthermore, understanding of the molecular processes involved in the viral life cycle, particularly the entry and cell lysis steps, has led to the development of viral proteins as antibacterial agents. Here we review the current preclinical state of using phage-derived endolysins, virion-associated peptidoglycan hydrolases, polysaccharide depolymerases, and holins for the treatment of bacterial infection. The scope of this review is a focus on the viral proteins that have been assessed for protective effects against human pathogenic bacteria in animal models of infection and disease.
PMCID: PMC4590002  PMID: 26442196
antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial; bacteriophage; endolysin; holin; peptidoglycan hydrolase; polysaccharide depolymerase
20.  Staphylococcus haemolyticus prophage ΦSH2 endolysin relies on Cysteine, Histidine-dependent Amidohydrolases/Peptidases activity for lysis ‘from without’ 
Journal of biotechnology  2012;162(0):289-298.
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.
PMCID: PMC4062874  PMID: 23026556
mastitis; phage endolysin; coagulase negative staphylococci
21.  Lytic enzyme discovery through multigenomic sequence analysis in Clostridium perfringens 
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.
PMCID: PMC3711215  PMID: 21085950
Lysin; Prophage; Enzybiotic; Muramidase; Clostridium perfringens
22.  A Genetic Screen to Identify Bacteriophage Lysins 
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)  2009;502:10.1007/978-1-60327-565-1_18.
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.
PMCID: PMC3863392  PMID: 19082564
lysin; hydrolase; cell wall; peptidoglycan; lysozyme; Gram-positive; antimicrobial; diagnostic; expression library
23.  Expression and lytic efficacy assessment of the Staphylococcus aureus phage SA4 lysin gene 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2013;14(1):37-43.
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.
PMCID: PMC3615230  PMID: 23388442
lysin; mastitis; phage; Staphylococcus aureus
24.  Peptidoglycan Hydrolase Fusions Maintain Their Parental Specificities 
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.
PMCID: PMC1448998  PMID: 16598006
25.  Improving the Lethal Effect of Cpl-7, a Pneumococcal Phage Lysozyme with Broad Bactericidal Activity, by Inverting the Net Charge of Its Cell Wall-Binding Module 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(11):5355-5365.
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.
PMCID: PMC3811316  PMID: 23959317

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