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1.  Intensive Mutagenesis of the Nisin Hinge Leads to the Rational Design of Enhanced Derivatives 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79563.
Nisin A is the most extensively studied lantibiotic and has been used as a preservative by the food industry since 1953. This 34 amino acid peptide contains three dehydrated amino acids and five thioether rings. These rings, resulting from one lanthionine and four methyllanthionine bridges, confer the peptide with its unique structure. Nisin A has two mechanisms of action, with the N-terminal domain of the peptide inhibiting cell wall synthesis through lipid II binding and the C-terminal domain responsible for pore-formation. The focus of this study is the three amino acid ‘hinge’ region (N 20, M 21 and K 22) which separates these two domains and allows for conformational flexibility. As all lantibiotics are gene encoded, novel variants can be generated through manipulation of the corresponding gene. A number of derivatives in which the hinge region was altered have previously been shown to possess enhanced antimicrobial activity. Here we take this approach further by employing simultaneous, indiscriminate site-saturation mutagenesis of all three hinge residues to create a novel bank of nisin derivative producers. Screening of this bank revealed that producers of peptides with hinge regions consisting of AAK, NAI and SLS displayed enhanced bioactivity against a variety of targets. These and other results suggested a preference for small, chiral amino acids within the hinge region, leading to the design and creation of producers of peptides with hinges consisting of AAA and SAA. These producers, and the corresponding peptides, exhibited enhanced bioactivity against Lactococcus lactis HP, Streptococcus agalactiae ATCC 13813, Mycobacterium smegmatis MC2155 and Staphylococcus aureus RF122 and thus represent the first example of nisin derivatives that possess enhanced activity as a consequence of rational design.
PMCID: PMC3823697  PMID: 24244524
2.  Saturation mutagenesis of selected residues of the α-peptide of the lantibiotic lacticin 3147 yields a derivative with enhanced antimicrobial activity 
Microbial Biotechnology  2013;6(5):564-575.
The lantibiotic lacticin 3147 consists of two ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, Ltnα and Ltnβ, which act synergistically against a wide range of Gram-positive microorganisms. We performed saturation mutagenesis of specific residues of Ltnα to determine their functional importance. The results establish that Ltnα is more tolerant to change than previously suggested by alanine scanning mutagenesis. One substitution, LtnαH23S, was identified which improved the specific activity of lacticin 3147 against one pathogenic strain, Staphylococcus aureus NCDO1499. This represents the first occasion upon which the activity of a two peptide lantibiotic has been enhanced through bioengineering.
Funding Information Work in the authors' laboratory is supported by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan; by the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET); by Enterprise Ireland; and by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), through the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) at University College Cork, Ireland, which is supported by the SFI-funded Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (SFI-CSET) and provided P.D.C., C.H and R.P.R. with SFI Principal Investigator funding.
PMCID: PMC3918158  PMID: 23433070
3.  Saturation Mutagenesis of Lysine 12 Leads to the Identification of Derivatives of Nisin A with Enhanced Antimicrobial Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58530.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that innovations from the “golden age” of antibiotics are becoming ineffective, resulting in a pressing need for novel therapeutics. The bacteriocin family of antimicrobial peptides has attracted much attention in recent years as a source of potential alternatives. The most intensively studied bacteriocin is nisin, a broad spectrum lantibiotic that inhibits Gram-positive bacteria including important food pathogens and clinically relevant antibiotic resistant bacteria. Nisin is gene-encoded and, as such, is amenable to peptide bioengineering, facilitating the generation of novel derivatives that can be screened for desirable properties. It was to this end that we used a site-saturation mutagenesis approach to create a bank of producers of nisin A derivatives that differ with respect to the identity of residue 12 (normally lysine; K12). A number of these producers exhibited enhanced bioactivity and the nisin A K12A producer was deemed of greatest interest. Subsequent investigations with the purified antimicrobial highlighted the enhanced specific activity of this modified nisin against representative target strains from the genera Streptococcus, Bacillus, Lactococcus, Enterococcus and Staphylococcus.
PMCID: PMC3594307  PMID: 23505531
4.  In vivo activity of Nisin A and Nisin V against Listeria monocytogenes in mice 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:23.
Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, of which nisin A is the most extensively studied example. Bioengineering of nisin A has resulted in the generation of derivatives with increased in vitro potency against Gram-positive bacteria. Of these, nisin V (containing a Met21Val change) is noteworthy by virtue of exhibiting enhanced antimicrobial efficacy against a wide range of clinical and food-borne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, this increased potency has not been tested in vivo.
Here we address this issue by assessing the ability of nisin A and nisin V to control a bioluminescent strain of Listeria monocytogenes EGDe in a murine infection model.
More specifically, Balb/c mice were infected via the intraperitoneal route at a dose of 1 × 105 cfu/animal and subsequently treated intraperitoneally with either nisin V, nisin A or a PBS control. Bioimaging of the mice was carried out on day 3 of the trial. Animals were then sacrificed and levels of infection were quantified in the liver and spleen.
This analysis revealed that nisin V was more effective than Nisin A with respect to controlling infection and therefore merits further investigation with a view to potential chemotherapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC3616995  PMID: 23374279
Antimicrobial; Lantibiotic; Bacteriocin; Peptide engineering; Mutagenesis; Nisin
5.  Bioengineered Nisin A Derivatives with Enhanced Activity against Both Gram Positive and Gram Negative Pathogens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46884.
Nisin is a bacteriocin widely utilized in more than 50 countries as a safe and natural antibacterial food preservative. It is the most extensively studied bacteriocin, having undergone decades of bioengineering with a view to improving function and physicochemical properties. The discovery of novel nisin variants with enhanced activity against clinical and foodborne pathogens has recently been described. We screened a randomized bank of nisin A producers and identified a variant with a serine to glycine change at position 29 (S29G), with enhanced efficacy against S. aureus SA113. Using a site-saturation mutagenesis approach we generated three more derivatives (S29A, S29D and S29E) with enhanced activity against a range of Gram positive drug resistant clinical, veterinary and food pathogens. In addition, a number of the nisin S29 derivatives displayed superior antimicrobial activity to nisin A when assessed against a range of Gram negative food-associated pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Cronobacter sakazakii. This is the first report of derivatives of nisin, or indeed any lantibiotic, with enhanced antimicrobial activity against both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3466204  PMID: 23056510
6.  Bioengineered nisin derivatives with enhanced activity in complex matrices 
Microbial biotechnology  2012;5(4):501-508.
Nisin A is the best known and most extensively characterized lantibiotic. As it is ribosomally synthesized, bioengineering‐based strategies can be used to generate variants. We have previously demonstrated that bioengineering of the hinge region of nisin A can result in the generation of variants with enhanced anti‐microbial activity against Gram‐positive pathogens. Here we created a larger bank of hinge variant producers and screened for producers that exhibit enhanced bioactivity as assessed by agar‐based assays against a selection of target strains. Further analysis of 12 ‘lead’ variants reveals that in many cases enhanced bioactivity is not attributable to enhanced specific activity but is instead as a consequence of an enhanced ability to diffuse through complex polymers. In the case of two variants, which contain the residues SVA and NAK, respectively, within the hinge region, we demonstrate that this enhanced trait enables the peptides to dramatically outperform nisin A with respect to controlling Listeria monocytogenes in commercially produced chocolate milk that contains carrageenan as a stabilizer.
PMCID: PMC3815327  PMID: 22260415
7.  Gene encoded antimicrobial peptides, a template for the design of novel anti-mycobacterial drugs 
Bioengineered Bugs  2010;1(6):408-412.
Nisin A is the most widely characterized lantibiotic investigated to date. It represents one of the many antimicrobial peptides which have been the focus of much interest as potential therapeutic agents. This has resulted in the search for novel lantibiotics and more commonly, the engineering of novel variants from existing peptides with a view to increasing their activity, stability and solubility.
The aim of this study was to compare the activities of nisin A and novel bioengineered hinge derivatives, nisin S, nisin T and nisin V. The microtitre alamar blue assay (MABA) was employed to identify the enhanced activity of these novel variants against M. tuberculosis (H37Ra), M. kansasii (CIT11/06), M. avium subsp. hominissuis (CIT05/03) and M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) (ATCC 19698). All variants displayed greater anti-mycobacterial activity than nisin A. Nisin S was the most potent variant against M. tuberculosis, M. kansasii and M. avium subsp. hominissuis, retarding growth by a maximum of 29% when compared with nisin A. Sub-species variations of inhibition were also observed with nisin S reducing growth of Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis by 28% and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis by 19% and nisin T contrastingly reducing growth of MAP by 27% and MAC by 16%.
Nisin S, nisin T and nisin V are potent novel anti-mycobacterial compounds, which have the capacity to be further modified, potentially generating compounds with additional beneficial characteristics. This is the first report to demonstrate an enhancement of efficacy by any bioengineered bacteriocin against mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC3056091  PMID: 21468208
mycobacteria; nisin variants; alamar blue; peptide engineering; lantibiotic; bacteriocin
8.  Studies with bioengineered Nisin peptides highlight the broad‐spectrum potency of Nisin V 
Microbial biotechnology  2010;3(4):473-486.
Nisin A is the most thoroughly investigated member of the lantibiotic family of antimicrobial peptides. In addition to a long history of safe use as a food antimicrobial, its activity against multi‐drug resistant pathogens has resulted in a renewed interest in applying nisin as a chemotherapeutic to treat bacterial infections. The wealth of Nisin‐related information that has been generated has also led to the development of the biotechnological capacity to engineer novel Nisin variants with a view to improving the function and physicochemical properties of this already potent peptide. However, the identification of bioengineered Nisin derivatives with enhanced antimicrobial activity against Gram‐positive targets is a recent event. In this study, we created stable producers of the most promising derivatives of Nisin A generated to date [M21V (hereafter Nisin V) and K22T (hereafter Nisin T)] and assessed their potency against a range of drug‐resistant clinical, veterinary and food pathogens. Nisin T exhibited increased activity against all veterinary isolates, including streptococci and staphylococci, and against a number of multi‐drug resistant clinical isolates including MRSA, but not vancomycin‐resistant enterococci. In contrast, Nisin V displayed increased potency against all targets tested including hVISA strains and the hyper‐virulent Clostridium difficile ribotype 027 and against important food pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Bacillus cereus. Significantly, this enhanced activity was validated in a model food system against L. monocytogenes. We conclude that Nisin V possesses significant potential as a novel preservative or chemotherapeutic compound.
PMCID: PMC3815813  PMID: 21255345

Results 1-8 (8)