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1.  Discovery of Novel Putative Inhibitors of UDP-GlcNAc 2-Epimerase as Potent Antibacterial Agents 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2013;4(12):1142-1147.
We present the discovery and optimization of a novel series of inhibitors of bacterial UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase (called 2-epimerase in this paper). Starting from virtual screening hits, the activity of various inhibitory molecules was optimized using a combination of structure-based and rational design approaches. We successfully designed and identified a 2-epimerase inhibitor (compound 12-ES-Na, that we named Epimerox) which blocked the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at 3.9 μM MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) and showed potent broad-range activity against all Gram-positive bacteria that were tested. Additionally a microplate coupled assay was performed to further confirm that the 2-epimerase inhibition of Epimerox was through a target-specific mechanism. Furthermore, Epimerox demonstrated in vivo efficacy and had a pharmacokinetic profile that is consonant with it being developed into a promising new antibiotic agent for treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria.
doi:10.1021/ml4001936
PMCID: PMC3890692  PMID: 24443700
2-epimerase inhibitor; antibacterial agent; Gram-positive bacteria; antibiotic-resistant pathogens; stereo-isomers
2.  Discovery of Novel Putative Inhibitors of UDP-GlcNAc 2-Epimerase as Potent Antibacterial Agents 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(12):1142-1147.
We present the discovery and optimization of a novel series of inhibitors of bacterial UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase (called 2-epimerase in this letter). Starting from virtual screening hits, the activity of various inhibitory molecules was optimized using a combination of structure-based and rational design approaches. We successfully designed and identified a 2-epimerase inhibitor (compound 12-ES-Na, that we named Epimerox), which blocked the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at 3.9 μM MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) and showed potent broad-range activity against all Gram-positive bacteria that were tested. Additionally a microplate coupled assay was performed to further confirm that the 2-epimerase inhibition of Epimerox was through a target-specific mechanism. Furthermore, Epimerox demonstrated in vivo efficacy and had a pharmacokinetic profile that is consonant with it being developed into a promising new antibiotic agent for treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria.
doi:10.1021/ml4001936
PMCID: PMC3890692  PMID: 24443700
2-Epimerase inhibitor; antibacterial agent; Gram-positive bacteria; antibiotic-resistant pathogens; stereoisomers
3.  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.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00115-14
PMCID: PMC4068442  PMID: 24637688
5.  Beyond the Chromosome: The Prevalence of Unique Extra-Chromosomal Bacteriophages with Integrated Virulence Genes in Pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100502.
In Staphylococcus aureus, the disease impact of chromosomally integrated prophages on virulence is well described. However, the existence of extra-chromosomal prophages, both plasmidial and episomal, remains obscure. Despite the recent explosion in bacterial and bacteriophage genomic sequencing, studies have failed to specifically focus on extra-chromosomal elements. We selectively enriched and sequenced extra-chromosomal DNA from S. aureus isolates using Roche-454 technology and uncovered evidence for the widespread distribution of multiple extra-chromosomal prophages (ExPΦs) throughout both antibiotic-sensitive and -resistant strains. We completely sequenced one such element comprised of a 43.8 kbp, circular ExPΦ (designated ФBU01) from a vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) strain. Assembly and annotation of ФBU01 revealed a number of putative virulence determinants encoded within a bacteriophage immune evasion cluster (IEC). Our identification of several potential ExPΦs and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) also revealed numerous putative virulence factors and antibiotic resistance genes. We describe here a previously unidentified level of genetic diversity of stealth extra-chromosomal elements in S. aureus, including phages with a larger presence outside the chromosome that likely play a prominent role in pathogenesis and strain diversity driven by horizontal gene transfer (HGT).
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100502
PMCID: PMC4070920  PMID: 24963913
6.  Complete Genome Sequence of Bacillus cereus Sensu Lato Bacteriophage Bcp1 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00334-14.
Bacillus cereus sensu lato organisms are an ecologically diverse group that includes etiologic agents of food poisoning, periodontal disease, and anthrax. The recently identified Bcp1 bacteriophage infects B. cereus sensu lato and is being developed as a therapeutic decontamination agent and diagnostic countermeasure. We announce the complete genome sequence of Bcp1.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00334-14
PMCID: PMC4056285  PMID: 24926042
7.  Identification of a Ligand on the Wip1 Bacteriophage Highly Specific for a Receptor on Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(19):4355-4364.
Tectiviridae is a family of tailless bacteriophages with Gram-negative and Gram-positive hosts. The family model PRD1 and its close relatives all infect a broad range of enterobacteria by recognizing a plasmid-encoded conjugal transfer complex as a receptor. In contrast, tectiviruses with Gram-positive hosts are highly specific to only a few hosts within the same bacterial species. The cellular determinants that account for the observed specificity remain unknown. Here we present the genome sequence of Wip1, a tectivirus that infects the pathogen Bacillus anthracis. The Wip1 genome is related to other tectiviruses with Gram-positive hosts, notably, AP50, but displays some interesting differences in its genome organization. We identified Wip1 candidate genes for the viral spike complex, the structure located at the capsid vertices and involved in host receptor binding. Phage adsorption and inhibition tests were combined with immunofluorescence microscopy to show that the Wip1 gene product p23 is a receptor binding protein. His-p23 also formed a stable complex with p24, a Wip1 protein of unknown function, suggesting that the latter is involved with p23 in host cell recognition. The narrow host range of phage Wip1 and the identification of p23 as a receptor binding protein offer a new range of suitable tools for the rapid identification of B. anthracis.
doi:10.1128/JB.00655-13
PMCID: PMC3807465  PMID: 23893110
8.  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.
doi:10.1007/978-1-60327-565-1_18
PMCID: PMC3863392  PMID: 19082564
lysin; hydrolase; cell wall; peptidoglycan; lysozyme; Gram-positive; antimicrobial; diagnostic; expression library
9.  Novel Bacteriophage Lysin with Broad Lytic Activity Protects against Mixed Infection by Streptococcus pyogenes and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus [GrAS]) cause serious and sometimes fatal human diseases. They are among the many Gram-positive pathogens for which resistance to leading antibiotics has emerged. As a result, alternative therapies need to be developed to combat these pathogens. We have identified a novel bacteriophage lysin (PlySs2), derived from a Streptococcus suis phage, with broad lytic activity against MRSA, vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA), Streptococcus suis, Listeria, Staphylococcus simulans, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus equi, Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]), S. pyogenes, Streptococcus sanguinis, group G streptococci (GGS), group E streptococci (GES), and Streptococcus pneumoniae. PlySs2 has an N-terminal cysteine-histidine aminopeptidase (CHAP) catalytic domain and a C-terminal SH3b binding domain. It is stable at 50°C for 30 min, 37°C for >24 h, 4°C for 15 days, and −80°C for >7 months; it maintained full activity after 10 freeze-thaw cycles. PlySs2 at 128 μg/ml in vitro reduced MRSA and S. pyogenes growth by 5 logs and 3 logs within 1 h, respectively, and exhibited a MIC of 16 μg/ml for MRSA. A single, 2-mg dose of PlySs2 protected 92% (22/24) of the mice in a bacteremia model of mixed MRSA and S. pyogenes infection. Serially increasing exposure of MRSA and S. pyogenes to PlySs2 or mupirocin resulted in no observed resistance to PlySs2 and resistance to mupirocin. To date, no other lysin has shown such notable broad lytic activity, stability, and efficacy against multiple, leading, human bacterial pathogens; as such, PlySs2 has all the characteristics to be an effective therapeutic.
doi:10.1128/AAC.02526-12
PMCID: PMC3716137  PMID: 23571534
10.  Combination Therapy With Lysin CF-301 and Antibiotic Is Superior to Antibiotic Alone for Treating Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus–Induced Murine Bacteremia 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(9):1469-1478.
Lysins are bacteriophage-derived enzymes that degrade bacterial peptidoglycans. Lysin CF-301 is being developed to treat Staphylococcus aureus because of its potent, specific, and rapid bacteriolytic effects. It also demonstrates activity on drug-resistant strains, has a low resistance profile, eradicates biofilms, and acts synergistically with antibiotics. CF-301 was bacteriolytic against 250 S. aureus strains tested including 120 methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates. In time-kill studies with 62 strains, CF-301 reduced S. aureus by 3-log10 within 30 minutes compared to 6–12 hours required by antibiotics. In bacteremia, CF-301 increased survival by reducing blood MRSA 100-fold within 1 hour. Combinations of CF-301 with vancomycin or daptomycin synergized in vitro and increased survival significantly in staphylococcal-induced bacteremia compared to treatment with antibiotics alone (P < .0001). Superiority of CF-301 combinations with antibiotics was confirmed in 26 independent bacteremia studies. Combinations including CF-301 and antibiotics represent an attractive alternative to antibiotic monotherapies currently used to treat S. aureus bacteremia.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit637
PMCID: PMC3982849  PMID: 24286983
Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; lysin; daptomycin; vancomycin; bacteremia
11.  Isolation of Clostridium perfringens Type B in an Individual at First Clinical Presentation of Multiple Sclerosis Provides Clues for Environmental Triggers of the Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76359.
We have isolated Clostridium perfringens type B, an epsilon toxin-secreting bacillus, from a young woman at clinical presentation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with actively enhancing lesions on brain MRI. This finding represents the first time that C. perfringens type B has been detected in a human. Epsilon toxin’s tropism for the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and binding to oligodendrocytes/myelin makes it a provocative candidate for nascent lesion formation in MS. We examined a well-characterized population of MS patients and healthy controls for carriage of C. perfringens toxinotypes in the gastrointestinal tract. The human commensal Clostridium perfringens type A was present in approximately 50% of healthy human controls compared to only 23% in MS patients. We examined sera and CSF obtained from two tissue banks and found that immunoreactivity to ETX is 10 times more prevalent in people with MS than in healthy controls, indicating prior exposure to ETX in the MS population. C. perfringens epsilon toxin fits mechanistically with nascent MS lesion formation since these lesions are characterized by BBB permeability and oligodendrocyte cell death in the absence of an adaptive immune infiltrate.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076359
PMCID: PMC3797790  PMID: 24146858
12.  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.
doi:10.1007/s00253-010-2982-8
PMCID: PMC3711215  PMID: 21085950
Lysin; Prophage; Enzybiotic; Muramidase; Clostridium perfringens
13.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.ijmm.2010.04.002
PMCID: PMC3666336  PMID: 20452280
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin
14.  Cellular aspects of M protein and SfbI anchoring to Streptococcus pyogenes wall 
Molecular Microbiology  2012;84(4):631-647.
Summary
Wall-anchored surface proteins are critical for the in vivo survival of Streptococcus pyogenes. Cues in the signal sequence direct the membrane translocation of surface proteins: M protein to the septum, and SfbI to the poles. Both proteins are subsequently anchored to the wall by the membrane bound enzyme sortase A. However, the cellular features of these pathways are not fully understood. Here we show that M protein and SfbI are anchored simultaneously throughout the cell cycle. M protein is rapidly anchored at the septum, and in part of the cell cycle, is anchored simultaneously at the mother and daughter septa. Conversely, SfbI accumulates gradually on peripheral peptidoglycan, resulting in a polar distribution. Sortase is not required for translocation of M protein or SfbI at their respective locations. Methicillin-induced unbalanced peptidoglycan synthesis diminishes surface M protein but not SfbI. Furthermore, overexpression of the division regulator DivIVA also diminishes surface M protein but increases SfbI. These results demonstrate a close connection between the regulation of cell division and protein anchoring. Better understanding of the spatial regulation of surface anchoring may lead to the identification of novel targets for the development of anti-infective agents, given the importance of surface molecules for pathogenesis.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08047.x
PMCID: PMC3383811  PMID: 22512736
15.  Use of a Bacteriophage Lysin to Identify a Novel Target for Antimicrobial Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60754.
We identified an essential cell wall biosynthetic enzyme in Bacillus anthracis and an inhibitor thereof to which the organism did not spontaneously evolve measurable resistance. This work is based on the exquisite binding specificity of bacteriophage-encoded cell wall-hydrolytic lysins, which have evolved to recognize critical receptors within the bacterial cell wall. Focusing on the B. anthracis-specific PlyG lysin, we first identified its unique cell wall receptor and cognate biosynthetic pathway. Within this pathway, one biosynthetic enzyme, 2-epimerase, was required for both PlyG receptor expression and bacterial growth. The 2-epimerase was used to design a small-molecule inhibitor, epimerox. Epimerox prevented growth of several Gram-positive pathogens and rescued mice challenged with lethal doses of B. anthracis. Importantly, resistance to epimerox was not detected (<10−11 frequency) in B. anthracis and S. aureus. These results describe the use of phage lysins to identify promising lead molecules with reduced resistance potential for antimicrobial development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060754
PMCID: PMC3622686  PMID: 23593301
16.  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.
doi:10.1186/2191-0855-1-29
PMCID: PMC3222324  PMID: 21982426
Bacteriophage; S. pneumoniae; Cpl-1; PEGylation; Endolysin; Enzybiotic
17.  A Novel Chimeric Lysin Shows Superiority to Mupirocin for Skin Decolonization of Methicillin-Resistant and -Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus Strains▿  
Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen responsible for a number of serious and sometimes fatal infections. One of its reservoirs on the human body is the skin, which is known to be a source of invasive infection. The potential for an engineered staphylococcus-specific phage lysin (ClyS) to be used for topical decolonization is presented. We formulated ClyS into an ointment and applied it to a mouse model of skin colonization/infection with S. aureus. Unlike the standard topical antibacterial agent mupirocin, ClyS eradicated a significantly greater number of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) and -resistant S. aureus (MRSA) bacteria: a 3-log reduction with ClyS as opposed to a 2-log reduction with mupirocin in our model. The use of ClyS also demonstrated a decreased potential for the development of resistance by MRSA and MSSA organisms compared to that from the use of mupirocin in vitro. Because antibodies may affect enzyme function, we tested antibodies developed after repeated ClyS exposure for their effect on ClyS killing ability. Our results showed no inhibition of ClyS activity at various antibody titers. These data demonstrate the potential of developing ClyS as a novel class of topical antimicrobial agents specific to staphylococcus.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00890-10
PMCID: PMC3028755  PMID: 21098252
18.  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.
doi:10.4161/bact.1.4.17747
PMCID: PMC3448103  PMID: 23050211
bacteriophage; endolysin; gram-positive bacteria; lytic enzymes; mucosal colonization; phage; prophylaxis; therapeutic
19.  Identifying Active Phage Lysins through Functional Viral Metagenomics ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(21):7181-7187.
Recent metagenomic sequencing studies of uncultured viral populations have provided novel insights into the ecology of environmental bacteriophage. At the same time, viral metagenomes could also represent a potential source of recombinant proteins with biotechnological value. In order to identify such proteins, a novel two-step screening technique was devised for cloning phage lytic enzymes from uncultured viral DNA. This plasmid-based approach first involves a primary screen in which transformed Escherichia coli clones that demonstrate colony lysis following exposure to inducing agent are identified. This effect, which can be due to the expression of membrane-permeabilizing phage holins, is discerned by the development a hemolytic effect in surrounding blood agar. In a secondary step, the clones identified in the primary screen are overlaid with autoclaved Gram-negative bacteria (specifically Pseudomonas aeruginosa) to assay directly for recombinant expression of lytic enzymes, which are often encoded proximally to holins in phage genomes. As proof-of-principle, the method was applied to a viral metagenomic library constructed from mixed animal feces, and 26 actively expressed lytic enzymes were cloned. These proteins include both Gram-positive-like and Gram-negative-like enzymes, as well as several atypical lysins whose predicted structures are less common among known phage. Overall, this study represents one of the first functional screens of a viral metagenomic population, and it provides a general approach for characterizing lysins from uncultured phage.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00732-10
PMCID: PMC2976241  PMID: 20851985
20.  A Novel Spore Protein, ExsM, Regulates Formation of the Exosporium in Bacillus cereus and Bacillus anthracis and Affects Spore Size and Shape▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(15):4012-4021.
Bacillus cereus spores are assembled with a series of concentric layers that protect them from a wide range of environmental stresses. The outermost layer, or exosporium, is a bag-like structure that interacts with the environment and is composed of more than 20 proteins and glycoproteins. Here, we identified a new spore protein, ExsM, from a β-mercaptoethanol extract of B. cereus ATCC 4342 spores. Subcellular localization of an ExsM-green fluorescent protein (GFP) protein revealed a dynamic pattern of fluorescence that follows the site of formation of the exosporium around the forespore. Under scanning electron microscopy, exsM null mutant spores were smaller and rounder than wild-type spores, which had an extended exosporium (spore length for the wt, 2.40 ± 0.56 μm, versus that for the exsM mutant, 1.66 ± 0.38 μm [P < 0.001]). Thin-section electron microscopy revealed that exsM mutant spores were encased by a double-layer exosporium, both layers of which were composed of a basal layer and a hair-like nap. Mutant exsM spores were more resistant to lysozyme treatment and germinated with higher efficiency than wild-type spores, and they had a delay in outgrowth. Insertional mutagenesis of exsM in Bacillus anthracis ΔSterne resulted in a partial second exosporium and in smaller spores. In all, these findings suggest that ExsM plays a critical role in the formation of the exosporium.
doi:10.1128/JB.00197-10
PMCID: PMC2916377  PMID: 20543075
21.  Synergism between a Novel Chimeric Lysin and Oxacillin Protects against Infection by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus▿ †¶  
Staphylococcus aureus is the causative agent of several serious infectious diseases. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant S. aureus strains has resulted in significant treatment difficulties, intensifying the need for new antimicrobial agents. Toward this end, we have developed a novel chimeric bacteriophage (phage) lysin that is active against staphylococci, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). The chimeric lysin (called ClyS) was obtained by fusing the N-terminal catalytic domain of the S. aureus Twort phage lysin with the C-terminal cell wall-targeting domain from another S. aureus phage lysin (phiNM3), which displayed Staphylococcus-specific binding. ClyS was expressed in Escherichia coli, and the purified protein lysed MRSA, vancomycin-intermediate strains of S. aureus (VISA), and methicillin-sensitive (MSSA) strains of S. aureus in vitro. In a mouse nasal decolonization model, a 2-log reduction in the viability of MRSA cells was seen 1 h following a single treatment with ClyS. One intraperitoneal dose of ClyS also protected against death by MRSA in a mouse septicemia model. ClyS showed a typical pattern of synergistic interactions with both vancomycin and oxacillin in vitro. More importantly, ClyS and oxacillin at doses that were not protective individually protected synergistically against MRSA septic death in a mouse model. These results strongly support the development of ClyS as an attractive addition to the current treatment options of multidrug-resistant S. aureus infections and would allow for the reinstatement of antibiotics shelved because of mounting resistance.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01625-09
PMCID: PMC2849374  PMID: 20086153
22.  Bacteriophage Lysins as Effective Antibacterials 
Current opinion in microbiology  2008;11(5):393-400.
Summary
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.
doi:10.1016/j.mib.2008.09.012
PMCID: PMC2597892  PMID: 18824123
Phage; Bacteriophage; Cell wall; Gram-positive bacteria; Infection; Lysin; Lytic enzymes; Mucosal colonization; Pathogens; Peptidoglycan
23.  The Secret Life of the Anthrax Agent Bacillus anthracis: Bacteriophage-Mediated Ecological Adaptations 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6532.
Ecological and genetic factors that govern the occurrence and persistence of anthrax reservoirs in the environment are obscure. A central tenet, based on limited and often conflicting studies, has long held that growing or vegetative forms of Bacillus anthracis survive poorly outside the mammalian host and must sporulate to survive in the environment. Here, we present evidence of a more dynamic lifecycle, whereby interactions with bacterial viruses, or bacteriophages, elicit phenotypic alterations in B. anthracis and the emergence of infected derivatives, or lysogens, with dramatically altered survival capabilities. Using both laboratory and environmental B. anthracis strains, we show that lysogeny can block or promote sporulation depending on the phage, induce exopolysaccharide expression and biofilm formation, and enable the long-term colonization of both an artificial soil environment and the intestinal tract of the invertebrate redworm, Eisenia fetida. All of the B. anthracis lysogens existed in a pseudolysogenic-like state in both the soil and worm gut, shedding phages that could in turn infect non-lysogenic B. anthracis recipients and confer survival phenotypes in those environments. Finally, the mechanism behind several phenotypic changes was found to require phage-encoded bacterial sigma factors and the expression of at least one host-encoded protein predicted to be involved in the colonization of invertebrate intestines. The results here demonstrate that during its environmental phase, bacteriophages provide B. anthracis with alternatives to sporulation that involve the activation of soil-survival and endosymbiotic capabilities.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006532
PMCID: PMC2716549  PMID: 19672290
24.  Rapid DNA Library Construction for Functional Genomic and Metagenomic Screening▿ †  
A rapid protocol was developed for constructing plasmid libraries from small quantities of genomic/metagenomic DNA. The technique utilizes linker amplification with topoisomerase cloning and allows for inducible transcription in Escherichia coli. As proof of principle, several anti-Bacillus lysins were cloned from bacteriophage genomes and an aerolysin was cloned from a metagenomic sample.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01864-07
PMCID: PMC2258639  PMID: 18083885
25.  Genetic Diversity among Enterococcus faecalis 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(7):e582.
Enterococcus faecalis, a ubiquitous member of mammalian gastrointestinal flora, is a leading cause of nosocomial infections and a growing public health concern. The enterococci responsible for these infections are often resistant to multiple antibiotics and have become notorious for their ability to acquire and disseminate antibiotic resistances. In the current study, we examined genetic relationships among 106 strains of E. faecalis isolated over the past 100 years, including strains identified for their diversity and used historically for serotyping, strains that have been adapted for laboratory use, and isolates from previously described E. faecalis infection outbreaks. This collection also includes isolates first characterized as having novel plasmids, virulence traits, antibiotic resistances, and pathogenicity island (PAI) components. We evaluated variation in factors contributing to pathogenicity, including toxin production, antibiotic resistance, polymorphism in the capsule (cps) operon, pathogenicity island (PAI) gene content, and other accessory factors. This information was correlated with multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) data, which was used to define genetic lineages. Our findings show that virulence and antibiotic resistance traits can be found within many diverse lineages of E. faecalis. However, lineages have emerged that have caused infection outbreaks globally, in which several new antibiotic resistances have entered the species, and in which virulence traits have converged. Comparing genomic hybridization profiles, using a microarray, of strains identified by MLST as spanning the diversity of the species, allowed us to identify the core E. faecalis genome as consisting of an estimated 2057 unique genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000582
PMCID: PMC1899230  PMID: 17611618

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