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1.  A Bioengineered Nisin Derivative to Control Biofilms of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119684.
Antibiotic resistance and the shortage of novel antimicrobials are among the biggest challenges facing society. One of the major factors contributing to resistance is the use of frontline clinical antibiotics in veterinary practice. In order to properly manage dwindling antibiotic resources, we must identify antimicrobials that are specifically targeted to veterinary applications. Nisin is a member of the lantibiotic family of antimicrobial peptides that exhibit potent antibacterial activity against many gram-positive bacteria, including human and animal pathogens such as Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Listeria, and Clostridium. Although not currently used in human medicine, nisin is already employed commercially as an anti-mastitis product in the veterinary field. Recently we have used bioengineering strategies to enhance the activity of nisin against several high profile targets, including multi-drug resistant clinical pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and also against staphylococci and streptococci associated with bovine mastitis. However, newly emerging pathogens such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP) pose a significant threat in terms of veterinary health and as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance determinants. In this study we created a nisin derivative with enhanced antimicrobial activity against S. pseudintermedius. In addition, the novel nisin derivative exhibits an enhanced ability to impair biofilm formation and to reduce the density of established biofilms. The activities of this peptide represent a significant improvement over that of the wild-type nisin peptide and merit further investigation with a view to their use to treat S. pseudintermedius infections.
PMCID: PMC4366236  PMID: 25789988
2.  Heterologous Expression of Thuricin CD Immunity Genes in Listeria monocytogenes 
Bacteriocins are ribosomally synthesized peptides that can have a narrow or broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Bacteriocin producers typically possess dedicated immunity systems that often consist of an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter system and/or a dedicated immunity protein. Here we investigated the genes responsible for immunity to thuricin CD, a narrow-spectrum two-peptide sactibiotic produced by Bacillus thuringiensis DPC6431. Heterologous expression of putative thuricin CD immunity determinants allowed us to identify and investigate the relative importance of the individual genes and gene products that contribute to thuricin CD immunity. We established that TrnF and TrnG are the individual components of an ABC transporter system that provides immunity to thuricin CD. We also identified a hitherto overlooked open reading frame located upstream of trnF predicted to encode a 79-amino-acid transmembrane protein. We designated this newly discovered gene trnI and established that TrnI alone can provide protection against thuricin CD.
PMCID: PMC4068476  PMID: 24709257
3.  Analysis of Anti-Clostridium difficile Activity of Thuricin CD, Vancomycin, Metronidazole, Ramoplanin, and Actagardine, both Singly and in Paired Combinations 
Due to the ongoing problem of recurrence of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea following antibiotic treatment, there is an urgent need for alternative treatment options. We assessed the MICs of five antimicrobials singly and in combinations against a range of C. difficile clinical isolates. Ramoplanin-actagardine combinations were particularly effective, with partial synergistic/additive effects observed against 61.5% of C. difficile strains tested.
PMCID: PMC3716125  PMID: 23571539
4.  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
5.  Bactofencin A, a New Type of Cationic Bacteriocin with Unusual Immunity 
mBio  2013;4(6):e00498-13.
Bacteriocin production is an important probiotic trait of intestinal bacteria. In this study, we identify a new type of bacteriocin, bactofencin A, produced by a porcine intestinal isolate Lactobacillus salivarius DPC6502, and assess its potency against pathogenic species including Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. Genome sequencing of the bacteriocin producer revealed bfnA, which encodes the mature and highly basic (pI 10.59), 22-amino-acid defensin-like peptide. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectral analysis determined that bactofencin A has a molecular mass of 2,782 Da and contains two cysteine residues that form an intramolecular disulfide bond. Although an ABC transporter and transport accessory protein were also present within the bacteriocin gene cluster, a classical bacteriocin immunity gene was not detected. Interestingly, a dltB homologue was identified downstream of bfnA. DltB is usually encoded within the dlt operon of many Gram-positive bacteria. It is responsible for d-alanylation of teichoic acids in the cell wall and has previously been associated with bacterial resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides. Heterologous expression of this gene conferred bactofencin A-specific immunity on sensitive strains of L. salivarius and S. aureus (although not L. monocytogenes), establishing its role in bacteriocin immunity. An analysis of the distribution of bfnA revealed that it was present in four additional isolates derived from porcine origin and absent from five human isolates, suggesting that its distribution is host specific. Given its novelty, we anticipate that bactofencin A represents the prototype of a new class of bacteriocins characterized as being cationic, with a DltB homologue providing a cognate immunity function.
This study describes the identification, purification, and characterization of bactofencin A, a novel type of bacteriocin produced by L. salivarius DPC6502. Interestingly, bactofencin A is not similar to any other known bacteriocin but instead shares similarity with eukaryotic cationic antimicrobial peptides, and here, we demonstrate that it inhibits two medically significant pathogens. Genome sequence analysis of the producing strain also revealed the presence of an atypical dltB homologue in the bacteriocin gene cluster, which was lacking a classical bacteriocin immunity gene. Furthermore, cloning this gene rendered sensitive strains resistant to the bacteriocin, thereby establishing its role in providing cognate bacteriocin immunity. Four additional L. salivarius isolates, also of porcine origin, were found to contain the bacteriocin biosynthesis genes and successfully produced bactofencin A, while these genes were absent from five human-derived strains investigated.
PMCID: PMC3809560  PMID: 24169573
6.  Subspecies diversity in bacteriocin production by intestinal Lactobacillus salivarius strains 
Gut Microbes  2012;3(5):468-473.
A recent comparative genomic hybridization study in our laboratory revealed considerable plasticity within the bacteriocin locus of gastrointestinal strains of Lactobacillus salivarius. Most notably, these analyses led to the identification of two novel unmodified bacteriocins, salivaricin L and salivaricin T, produced by the neonatal isolate L. salivarius DPC6488 with immunity, regulatory and export systems analogous to those of abp118, a two-component bacteriocin produced by the well characterized reference strain L. salivarius UCC118. In this addendum we discuss the intraspecific diversity of our seven bacteriocin-producing L. salivarius isolates on a genome-wide level, and more specifically, with respect to their salivaricin loci.
PMCID: PMC3466502  PMID: 22892690
Lactobacillus salivarius; bacteriocin; comparative genomic hybridization; probiotic; salivaricin
7.  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
8.  Subtilomycin: A New Lantibiotic from Bacillus subtilis Strain MMA7 Isolated from the Marine Sponge Haliclona simulans 
Marine Drugs  2013;11(6):1878-1898.
Bacteriocins are attracting increased attention as an alternative to classic antibiotics in the fight against infectious disease and multidrug resistant pathogens. Bacillus subtilis strain MMA7 isolated from the marine sponge Haliclona simulans displays a broad spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, as well as several pathogenic Candida species. This activity is in part associated with a newly identified lantibiotic, herein named as subtilomycin. The proposed biosynthetic cluster is composed of six genes, including protein-coding genes for LanB-like dehydratase and LanC-like cyclase modification enzymes, characteristic of the class I lantibiotics. The subtilomycin biosynthetic cluster in B. subtilis strain MMA7 is found in place of the sporulation killing factor (skf) operon, reported in many B. subtilis isolates and involved in a bacterial cannibalistic behaviour intended to delay sporulation. The presence of the subtilomycin biosynthetic cluster appears to be widespread amongst B. subtilis strains isolated from different shallow and deep water marine sponges. Subtilomycin possesses several desirable industrial and pharmaceutical physicochemical properties, including activity over a wide pH range, thermal resistance and water solubility. Additionally, the production of the lantibiotic subtilomycin could be a desirable property should B. subtilis strain MMA7 be employed as a probiotic in aquaculture applications.
PMCID: PMC3721211  PMID: 23736764
antimicrobial; subtilomycin; lantibiotic; marine sponge; Bacillus subtilis
9.  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
10.  Extensive Manipulation of Caseicins A and B Highlights the Tolerance of These Antimicrobial Peptides to Change 
Caseicins A and B are low-molecular-weight antimicrobial peptides which are released by proteolytic digestion of sodium caseinate. Caseicin A (IKHQGLPQE) is a nine-amino-acid cationic peptide, and caseicin B (VLNENLLR) is a neutral eight-amino-acid peptide; both have previously been shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against a number of pathogens, including Cronobacter sakazakii. Previously, four variants of each caseicin which differed subtly from their natural counterparts were generated by peptide synthesis. Antimicrobial activity assays revealed that the importance of a number of the residues within the peptides was dependent on the strain being targeted. In this study, this engineering-based approach was expanded through the creation of a larger collection of 26 peptides which are altered in a variety of ways. The investigation highlights the generally greater tolerance of caseicin B to change, the fact that changes have a more detrimental impact on anti-Gram-negative activity, and the surprising number of variants which exhibit enhanced activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
PMCID: PMC3302613  PMID: 22247170
11.  Assessment of the Bacteriocinogenic Potential of Marine Bacteria Reveals Lichenicidin Production by Seaweed-Derived Bacillus spp.  
Marine Drugs  2012;10(10):2280-2299.
The objectives of this study were (1) to assess the bacteriocinogenic potential of bacteria derived mainly from seaweed, but also sand and seawater, (2) to identify at least some of the bacteriocins produced, if any and (3) to determine if they are unique to the marine environment and/or novel. Fifteen Bacillus licheniformis or pumilus isolates with antimicrobial activity against at least one of the indicator bacteria used were recovered. Some, at least, of the antimicrobials produced were bacteriocins, as they were proteinaceous and the producers displayed immunity. Screening with PCR primers for known Bacillus bacteriocins revealed that three seaweed-derived Bacillus licheniformis harbored the bli04127 gene which encodes one of the peptides of the two-peptide lantibiotic lichenicidin. Production of both lichenicidin peptides was then confirmed by mass spectrometry. This is the first definitive proof of bacteriocin production by seaweed-derived bacteria. The authors acknowledge that the bacteriocin produced has previously been discovered and is not unique to the marine environment. However, the other marine isolates likely produce novel bacteriocins, as none harboured genes for known Bacillus bacteriocins.
PMCID: PMC3497023  PMID: 23170084
antimicrobial; bacteriocin; sea; Bacilluslicheniformis
12.  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
13.  Production of Multiple Bacteriocins from a Single Locus by Gastrointestinal Strains of Lactobacillus salivarius▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(24):6973-6982.
Bacteriocins produced by Lactobacillus salivarius isolates derived from a gastrointestinal origin have previously demonstrated efficacy for in vivo protection against Listeria monocytogenes infection. In this study, comparative genomic analysis was employed to investigate the intraspecies diversity of seven L. salivarius isolates of human and porcine intestinal origin, based on the genome of the well-characterized bacteriocin-producing strain L. salivarius UCC118. This revealed a highly conserved megaplasmid-borne gene cluster in these strains involved in the regulation and secretion of two-component class IIb bacteriocins. However, considerable intraspecific variation was observed in the structural genes encoding the bacteriocin peptides. They ranged from close relatives of abp118, such as salivaricin P, which differs by 2 amino acids, to completely novel bacteriocins, such as salivaricin T, which is characterized in this study. Salivaricin T inhibits closely related lactobacilli and bears little homology to previously characterized salivaricins. Interestingly, the two peptides responsible for salivaricin T activity, SalTα and SalTβ, share considerable identity with the component peptides of thermophilin 13, a bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus thermophilus. Furthermore, the salivaricin locus of strain DPC6488 also encodes an additional novel one-component class IId anti-listerial bacteriocin, salivaricin L. These findings suggest a high level of redundancy in the bacteriocins that can be produced by intestinal L. salivarius isolates using the same enzymatic production and export machinery. Such diversity may contribute to their ability to dominate and compete within the complex microbiota of the mammalian gut.
PMCID: PMC3232826  PMID: 21984788
14.  Altering the Composition of Caseicins A and B as a Means of Determining the Contribution of Specific Residues to Antimicrobial Activity ▿  
Caseicin A (IKHQGLPQE) and caseicin B (VLNENLLR) are antimicrobial peptides generated through the bacterial fermentation of sodium caseinate, and on the basis of this and previous studies, they are active against many Gram-negative pathogens (Cronobacter sakazakii, Cronobacter muytjensii, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas fluorescens) as well as the Gram-positive organism Staphylococcus aureus. Here we describe further studies with the aim of establishing the importance of specific (charged and nonpolar aliphatic) residues within the caseicin peptides and the effects that they have on the bacteria listed above. In order to achieve our objective, we created four derivatives of each caseicin (A1 to A4 and B1 to B4) in which specific residues were altered, and results obtained with these derivatives were compared to wild-type caseicin activity. Although conversion of cationic residues to alanine in caseicins B1 (R8A change), A1 (K2A), A2 (H3A), and A3 (K2A-H3A) generally resulted in their activity against microbial targets being reduced or unaltered, C. sakazakii DPC6440 was unusual in that it displayed enhanced sensitivity to three peptides (caseicins A1, A3, and B2) in which positively charged residues had been eliminated. While the replacement of leucine with alanine in selected variants (B3 and B4) resulted in reduced activity against a number of strains of Cronobacter and, in some cases, S. Typhimurium, these changes enhanced the activities of these peptides against DPC6440 and a number of S. aureus strains. It is thus apparent that the importance of specific residues within the caseicin peptides is dependent on the strain being targeted.
PMCID: PMC3067445  PMID: 21296933
15.  Inhibitory activity of Lactobacillus plantarum LMG P-26358 against Listeria innocua when used as an adjunct starter in the manufacture of cheese 
Microbial Cell Factories  2011;10(Suppl 1):S7.
Lactobacillus plantarum LMG P-26358 isolated from a soft French artisanal cheese produces a potent class IIa bacteriocin with 100% homology to plantaricin 423 and bacteriocidal activity against Listeria innocua and Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteriocin was found to be highly stable at temperatures as high as 100°C and pH ranges from 1-10. While this relatively narrow spectrum bacteriocin also exhibited antimicrobial activity against species of enterococci, it did not inhibit dairy starters including lactococci and lactobacilli when tested by well diffusion assay (WDA). In order to test the suitability of Lb. plantarum LMG P-26358 as an anti-listerial adjunct with nisin-producing lactococci, laboratory-scale cheeses were manufactured. Results indicated that combining Lb. plantarum LMG P-26358 (at 108 colony forming units (cfu)/ml) with a nisin producer is an effective strategy to eliminate the biological indicator strain, L. innocua. Moreover, industrial-scale cheeses also demonstrated that Lb. plantarum LMG P-26358 was much more effective than the nisin producer alone for protection against the indicator. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of plantaricin 423 and nisin in the appropriate cheeses over an 18 week ripening period. A spray-dried fermentate of Lb. plantarum LMG P-26358 also demonstrated potent anti-listerial activity in vitro using L. innocua. Overall, the results suggest that Lb. plantarum LMG P-26358 is a suitable adjunct for use with nisin-producing cultures to improve the safety and quality of dairy products.
PMCID: PMC3231933  PMID: 21995443
16.  Synthesis of Trypsin-Resistant Variants of the Listeria-Active Bacteriocin Salivaricin P▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(16):5356-5362.
Two-component salivaricin P-like bacteriocins have demonstrated potential as antimicrobials capable of controlling infections in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The anti-Listeria activity of salivaricin P is optimal when the individual peptides Sln1 and Sln2 are added in succession at a 1:1 ratio. However, as degradation by digestive proteases may compromise the functionality of these peptides within the GIT, we investigated the potential to create salivaricin variants with enhanced resistance to the intestinal protease trypsin. A total of 11 variants of the salivaricin P components, in which conservative modifications at the trypsin-specific cleavage sites were explored in order to protect the peptides from trypsin degradation while maintaining their potent antimicrobial activity, were generated. Analysis of these variants revealed that eight were resistant to trypsin digestion while retaining antimicrobial activity. Combining the complementary trypsin-resistant variants Sln1-5 and Sln2-3 resulted in a MIC50 of 300 nM against Listeria monocytogenes, a 3.75-fold reduction in activity compared to the level for wild-type salivaricin P. This study demonstrates the potential of engineering bacteriocin variants which are resistant to specific protease action but which retain significant antimicrobial activity.
PMCID: PMC2918959  PMID: 20581174
17.  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
18.  Production of the Bsa Lantibiotic by Community-Acquired Staphylococcus aureus Strains▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;192(4):1131-1142.
Lantibiotics are antimicrobial peptides that have been the focus of much attention in recent years with a view to clinical, veterinary, and food applications. Although many lantibiotics are produced by food-grade bacteria or bacteria generally regarded as safe, some lantibiotics are produced by pathogens and, rather than contributing to food safety and/or health, add to the virulence potential of the producing strains. Indeed, genome sequencing has revealed the presence of genes apparently encoding a lantibiotic, designated Bsa (bacteriocin of Staphylococcus aureus), among clinical isolates of S. aureus and those associated with community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections in particular. Here, we establish for the first time, through a combination of reverse genetics, mass spectrometry, and mutagenesis, that these genes encode a functional lantibiotic. We also reveal that Bsa is identical to the previously identified bacteriocin staphylococcin Au-26, produced by an S. aureus strain of vaginal origin. Our examination of MRSA isolates that produce the Panton-Valentine leukocidin demonstrates that many community-acquired S. aureus strains, and representatives of ST8 and ST80 in particular, are producers of Bsa. While possession of Bsa immunity genes does not significantly enhance resistance to the related lantibiotic gallidermin, the broad antimicrobial spectrum of Bsa strongly indicates that production of this bacteriocin confers a competitive ecological advantage on community-acquired S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC2812960  PMID: 20023032
19.  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
20.  Growth Characteristics of Brevibacterium, Corynebacterium, Microbacterium, and Staphylococcus spp. Isolated from Surface-Ripened Cheese▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(23):7732-7739.
The growth characteristics of five bacteria, Brevibacterium aurantiacum 1-16-58, Corynebacterium casei DPC 5298T, Corynebacterium variabile DPC 5310, Microbacterium gubbeenense DPC 5286T, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus 4E61, all of which were isolated from the surface of smear cheese, were studied in complex and chemically defined media. All of the coryneforms, except M. gubbeenense, grew in 12% salt, while B. aurantiacum and S. saprophyticus grew in 15% salt. All five bacteria assimilated lactate in a semisynthetic medium, and none of the coryneform bacteria assimilated lactose. Glucose assimilation was poor, except by S. saprophyticus and C. casei. Five to seven amino acids were assimilated by the coryneforms and 12 by S. saprophyticus. Glutamate, phenylalanine, and proline were utilized by all five bacteria, whereas utilization of serine, threonine, aspartate, histidine, alanine, arginine, leucine, isoleucine, and glycine depended on the organism. Growth of C. casei restarted after addition of glutamate, proline, serine, and lactate at the end of the exponential phase, indicating that these amino acids and lactate can be used as energy sources. Pantothenic acid was essential for the growth of C. casei and M. gubbeenense. Omission of biotin reduced the growth of B. aurantiacum, C. casei, and M. gubbeenense. All of the bacteria contained lactate dehydrogenase activity (with both pyruvate and lactate as substrates) and glutamate pyruvate transaminase activity but not urease activity.
PMCID: PMC2168080  PMID: 17921266
21.  Sequential Actions of the Two Component Peptides of the Lantibiotic Lacticin 3147 Explain Its Antimicrobial Activity at Nanomolar Concentrations 
Lacticin 3147 is a two-peptide (LtnA1 and LtnA2) lantibiotic produced by Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis DPC3147 and has inhibitory activity against all gram-positive microorganisms tested. In this study the specific activities of the component peptides (alone or in combination) were determined by using L. lactis subsp. cremoris HP as the target strain. Lacticin 3147 exhibited an MIC50 of 7 nM for each component peptide (in combination), suggesting a peptide stoichiometry of 1:1. Interestingly, the LtnA1 peptide demonstrated independent inhibitory activity, with an MIC50 of 200 nM against L. lactis HP. In parallel studies, the single peptide bacteriocin nisin exhibited an MIC50 of 50 nM against the same target strain. Sequential peptide addition (with an intermediate washing step) demonstrated that LtnA1 must be added before LtnA2 rather than vice versa to observe inhibitory activity. The nanomolar activity of the lacticin peptides suggests the involvement of a docking molecule, speculated to be lipid II. Taken together with the recently determined structure of lacticin 3147 (N. I. Martin, T. Sprules, M. R. Carpenter, P. D. Cotter, C. Hill, R. P. Ross, and J. C. Vederas, Biochemistry, 43:3049-3056, 2004), these data support the hypothesis that the mode of action for lacticin 3147 involves a lipid II binding step (by the mersacidin-like LtnA1 peptide, which would explain its independent inhibitory activity), followed by insertion of the more linear LtnA2 peptide into the target membrane, resulting in pore formation and ultimate cell death.
PMCID: PMC1168663  PMID: 15980326
22.  Use of Hydrostatic Pressure for Inactivation of Microbial Contaminants in Cheese 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2000;66(11):4890-4896.
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of high pressure (HP) on the inactivation of microbial contaminants in Cheddar cheese (Escherichia coli K-12, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538, and Penicillium roqueforti IMI 297987). Initially, cheese slurries inoculated with E. coli, S. aureus, and P. roqueforti were used as a convenient means to define the effects of a range of pressures and temperatures on the viability of these microorganisms. Cheese slurries were subjected to pressures of 50 to 800 MPa for 20 min at temperatures of 10, 20, and 30°C. At 400 MPa, the viability of P. roqueforti in cheese slurry decreased by >2-log-unit cycles at 10°C and by 6-log-unit cycles at temperatures of 20 and 30°C. S. aureus and E. coli were not detected after HP treatments in cheese slurry of >600 MPa at 20°C and >400 MPa at 30°C, respectively. In addition to cell death, the presence of sublethally injured cells in HP-treated slurries was demonstrated by differential plating using nonselective agar incorporating salt or glucose. Kinetic experiments of HP inactivation demonstrated that increasing the pressure from 300 to 400 MPa resulted in a higher degree of inactivation than increasing the pressurization time from 0 to 60 min, indicating a greater antimicrobial impact of pressure. Selected conditions were subsequently tested on Cheddar cheese by adding the isolates to cheese milk and pressure treating the resultant cheeses at 100 to 500 MPa for 20 min at 20°C. The relative sensitivities of the isolates to HP in Cheddar cheese were similar to those observed in the cheese slurry, i.e., P. roqueforti was more sensitive than E. coli, which was more sensitive than S. aureus. The organisms were more sensitive to pressure in cheese than slurry, especially with E. coli. On comparison of the sensitivities of the microorganisms in a pH 5.3 phosphate buffer, cheese slurry, and Cheddar cheese, greatest sensitivity to HP was shown in the pH 5.3 phosphate buffer by S. aureus and P. roqueforti while greatest sensitivity to HP by E. coli was exhibited in Cheddar cheese. Therefore, the medium in which the microorganisms are treated is an important determinant of the level of inactivation observed.
PMCID: PMC92396  PMID: 11055940

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