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1.  CIM® Monolithic Anion-Exchange Chromatography as a Useful Alternative to CsCl Gradient Purification of Bacteriophage Particles 
Virology  2012;434(2):265-270.
The use of anion-exchange chromatography was investigated (and parameters compared) as an alternative method to concentrate and purify bacterial viruses. Chromatography was performed with Convective Interactive Media® monoliths, with three different volumes and two matrix chemistries. Eleven morphologically distinct phages were tested, infecting five different bacterial species. For each of the phages tested, a protocol was optimized, including the choice of column chemistry, loading, buffer and elution conditions. The capacity and recovery of the phages on the columns varied considerably between phages. We conclude that anion-exchange chromatography with monoliths is a valid alternative to the more traditional CsCl purification, has upscaling advantages, but it requires more extensive optimization.
PMCID: PMC4286298  PMID: 23079104
Bacteriophages; purification; anion-exchange chromatography
2.  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
3.  Identification of opsA, a Gene Involved in Solute Stress Mitigation and Survival in Soil, in the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon-Degrading Bacterium Novosphingobium sp. Strain LH128 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(11):3350-3361.
The aim of this study was to identify genes involved in solute and matric stress mitigation in the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading Novosphingobium sp. strain LH128. The genes were identified using plasposon mutagenesis and by selection of mutants that showed impaired growth in a medium containing 450 mM NaCl as a solute stress or 10% (wt/vol) polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000 as a matric stress. Eleven and 14 mutants showed growth impairment when exposed to solute and matric stresses, respectively. The disrupted sequences were mapped on a draft genome sequence of strain LH128, and the corresponding gene functions were predicted. None of them were shared between solute and matric stress-impacted mutants. One NaCl-affected mutant (i.e., NA7E1) with a disruption in a gene encoding a putative outer membrane protein (OpsA) was susceptible to lower NaCl concentrations than the other mutants. The growth of NA7E1 was impacted by other ions and nonionic solutes and by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), suggesting that opsA is involved in osmotic stress mitigation and/or outer membrane stability in strain LH128. NA7E1 was also the only mutant that showed reduced growth and less-efficient phenanthrene degradation in soil compared to the wild type. Moreover, the survival of NA7E1 in soil decreased significantly when the moisture content was decreased but was unaffected when soluble solutes from sandy soil were removed by washing. opsA appears to be important for the survival of strain LH128 in soil, especially in the case of reduced moisture content, probably by mitigating the effects of solute stress and retaining membrane stability.
PMCID: PMC4018858  PMID: 24657861
4.  Experimental phage therapy of burn wound infection: difficult first steps 
Antibiotic resistance has become a major public health problem and the antibiotics pipeline is running dry. Bacteriophages (phages) may offer an ‘innovative’ means of infection treatment, which can be combined or alternated with antibiotic therapy and may enhance our abilities to treat bacterial infections successfully. Today, in the Queen Astrid Military Hospital, phage therapy is increasingly considered as part of a salvage therapy for patients in therapeutic dead end, particularly those with multidrug resistant infections. We describe the application of a well-defined and quality controlled phage cocktail, active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, on colonized burn wounds within a modest clinical trial (nine patients, 10 applications), which was approved by a leading Belgian Medical Ethical Committee. No adverse events, clinical abnormalities or changes in laboratory test results that could be related to the application of phages were observed. Unfortunately, this very prudent ‘clinical trial’ did not allow for an adequate evaluation of the efficacy of the phage cocktail. Nevertheless, this first ‘baby step’ revealed several pitfalls and lessons for future experimental phage therapy and helped overcome the psychological hurdles that existed to the use of viruses in the treatment of patients in our burn unit.
PMCID: PMC4212884  PMID: 25356373
Phage therapy; burn wound; infection; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Staphylococcus aureus; antibiotic resistance
5.  A Thermostable Salmonella Phage Endolysin, Lys68, with Broad Bactericidal Properties against Gram-Negative Pathogens in Presence of Weak Acids 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108376.
Resistance rates are increasing among several problematic Gram-negative pathogens, a fact that has encouraged the development of new antimicrobial agents. This paper characterizes a Salmonella phage endolysin (Lys68) and demonstrates its potential antimicrobial effectiveness when combined with organic acids towards Gram-negative pathogens. Biochemical characterization reveals that Lys68 is more active at pH 7.0, maintaining 76.7% of its activity when stored at 4°C for two months. Thermostability tests showed that Lys68 is only completely inactivated upon exposure to 100°C for 30 min, and circular dichroism analysis demonstrated the ability to refold into its original conformation upon thermal denaturation. It was shown that Lys68 is able to lyse a wide panel of Gram-negative bacteria (13 different species) in combination with the outer membrane permeabilizers EDTA, citric and malic acid. While the EDTA/Lys68 combination only inactivated Pseudomonas strains, the use of citric or malic acid broadened Lys68 antibacterial effect to other Gram-negative pathogens (lytic activity against 9 and 11 species, respectively). Particularly against Salmonella Typhimurium LT2, the combinatory effect of malic or citric acid with Lys68 led to approximately 3 to 5 log reductions in bacterial load/CFUs after 2 hours, respectively, and was also able to reduce stationary-phase cells and bacterial biofilms by approximately 1 log. The broad killing capacity of malic/citric acid-Lys68 is explained by the destabilization and major disruptions of the cell outer membrane integrity due to the acidity caused by the organic acids and a relatively high muralytic activity of Lys68 at low pH. Lys68 demonstrates good (thermo)stability properties that combined with different outer membrane permeabilizers, could become useful to combat Gram-negative pathogens in agricultural, food and medical industry.
PMCID: PMC4188523  PMID: 25290100
6.  Characterization of Newly Isolated Lytic Bacteriophages Active against Acinetobacter baumannii 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104853.
Based on genotyping and host range, two newly isolated lytic bacteriophages, myovirus vB_AbaM_Acibel004 and podovirus vB_AbaP_Acibel007, active against Acinetobacter baumannii clinical strains, were selected from a new phage library for further characterization. The complete genomes of the two phages were analyzed. Both phages are characterized by broad host range and essential features of potential therapeutic phages, such as short latent period (27 and 21 min, respectively), high burst size (125 and 145, respectively), stability of activity in liquid culture and low frequency of occurrence of phage-resistant mutant bacterial cells. Genomic analysis showed that while Acibel004 represents a novel bacteriophage with resemblance to some unclassified Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages, Acibel007 belongs to the well-characterized genus of the Phikmvlikevirus. The newly isolated phages can serve as potential candidates for phage cocktails to control A. baumannii infections.
PMCID: PMC4128745  PMID: 25111143
7.  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
8.  Predicting In Vivo Efficacy of Therapeutic Bacteriophages Used To Treat Pulmonary Infections 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(12):5961-5968.
The potential of bacteriophage therapy to treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria has now been well established using various animal models. While numerous newly isolated bacteriophages have been claimed to be potential therapeutic candidates on the basis of in vitro observations, the parameters used to guide their choice among billions of available bacteriophages are still not clearly defined. We made use of a mouse lung infection model and a bioluminescent strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to compare the activities in vitro and in vivo of a set of nine different bacteriophages (PAK_P1, PAK_P2, PAK_P3, PAK_P4, PAK_P5, CHA_P1, LBL3, LUZ19, and PhiKZ). For seven bacteriophages, a good correlation was found between in vitro and in vivo activity. While the remaining two bacteriophages were active in vitro, they were not sufficiently active in vivo under similar conditions to rescue infected animals. Based on the bioluminescence recorded at 2 and 8 h postinfection, we also define for the first time a reliable index to predict treatment efficacy. Our results showed that the bacteriophages isolated directly on the targeted host were the most efficient in vivo, supporting a personalized approach favoring an optimal treatment.
PMCID: PMC3837875  PMID: 24041900
9.  Genome Sequence of Serratia plymuthica RVH1, Isolated from a Raw Vegetable-Processing Line 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(1):e00021-14.
We announce the genome sequence of Serratia plymuthica strain RVH1, a psychroloterant strain that was isolated from a raw vegetable-processing line and that regulates the production of primary metabolites (acetoin and butanediol), antibiotics, and extracellular enzymes through quorum sensing.
PMCID: PMC3916479  PMID: 24503985
10.  Call for a Dedicated European Legal Framework for Bacteriophage Therapy 
The worldwide emergence of antibiotic resistances and the drying up of the antibiotic pipeline have spurred a search for alternative or complementary antibacterial therapies. Bacteriophages are bacterial viruses that have been used for almost a century to combat bacterial infections, particularly in Poland and the former Soviet Union. The antibiotic crisis has triggered a renewed clinical and agricultural interest in bacteriophages. This, combined with new scientific insights, has pushed bacteriophages to the forefront of the search for new approaches to fighting bacterial infections. But before bacteriophage therapy can be introduced into clinical practice in the European Union, several challenges must be overcome. One of these is the conceptualization and classification of bacteriophage therapy itself and the extent to which it constitutes a human medicinal product regulated under the European Human Code for Medicines (Directive 2001/83/EC). Can therapeutic products containing natural bacteriophages be categorized under the current European regulatory framework, or should this framework be adapted? Various actors in the field have discussed the need for an adapted (or entirely new) regulatory framework for the reintroduction of bacteriophage therapy in Europe. This led to the identification of several characteristics specific to natural bacteriophages that should be taken into consideration by regulators when evaluating bacteriophage therapy. One important consideration is whether bacteriophage therapy development occurs on an industrial scale or a hospital-based, patient-specific scale. More suitable regulatory standards may create opportunities to improve insights into this promising therapeutic approach. In light of this, we argue for the creation of a new, dedicated European regulatory framework for bacteriophage therapy.
PMCID: PMC3950567  PMID: 24500660
Bacteriophage; Therapy; Human; European; Regulatory; Legal; Legislation
11.  Massive Activation of Archaeal Defense Genes during Viral Infection 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(15):8419-8428.
Archaeal viruses display unusually high genetic and morphological diversity. Studies of these viruses proved to be instrumental for the expansion of knowledge on viral diversity and evolution. The Sulfolobus islandicus rod-shaped virus 2 (SIRV2) is a model to study virus-host interactions in Archaea. It is a lytic virus that exploits a unique egress mechanism based on the formation of remarkable pyramidal structures on the host cell envelope. Using whole-transcriptome sequencing, we present here a global map defining host and viral gene expression during the infection cycle of SIRV2 in its hyperthermophilic host S. islandicus LAL14/1. This information was used, in combination with a yeast two-hybrid analysis of SIRV2 protein interactions, to advance current understanding of viral gene functions. As a consequence of SIRV2 infection, transcription of more than one-third of S. islandicus genes was differentially regulated. While expression of genes involved in cell division decreased, those genes playing a role in antiviral defense were activated on a large scale. Expression of genes belonging to toxin-antitoxin and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems was specifically pronounced. The observed different degree of activation of various CRISPR-Cas systems highlights the specialized functions they perform. The information on individual gene expression and activation of antiviral defense systems is expected to aid future studies aimed at detailed understanding of the functions and interplay of these systems in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3719828  PMID: 23698312
12.  Romulus and Remus, Two Phage Isolates Representing a Distinct Clade within the Twortlikevirus Genus, Display Suitable Properties for Phage Therapy Applications 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(6):3237-3247.
The renewed interest in controlling Staphylococcus aureus infections using their natural enemies, bacteriophages, has led to the isolation of a limited number of virulent phages so far. These phages are all members of the Twortlikevirus, displaying little variance. We present two novel closely related (95.9% DNA homology) lytic myoviruses, Romulus and Remus, with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genomes of 131,333 bp and 134,643 bp, respectively. Despite their relatedness to Staphylococcus phages K, G1, ISP, and Twort and Listeria phages A511 and P100, Romulus and Remus can be proposed as isolates of a new species within the Twortlikevirus genus. A distinguishing feature for these phage genomes is the unique distribution of group I introns compared to that in other staphylococcal myoviruses. In addition, a hedgehog/intein domain was found within their DNA polymerase genes, and an insertion sequence-encoded transposase exhibits splicing behavior and produces a functional portal protein. From a phage therapy application perspective, Romulus and Remus infected approximately 70% of the tested S. aureus isolates and displayed promising lytic activity against these isolates. Furthermore, both phages showed a rapid initial adsorption and demonstrated biofilm-degrading capacity in a proof-of-concept experiment.
PMCID: PMC3592175  PMID: 23302893
13.  Exposure to Solute Stress Affects Genome-Wide Expression but Not the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon-Degrading Activity of Sphingomonas sp. Strain LH128 in Biofilms 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(23):8311-8320.
Members of the genus Sphingomonas are important catalysts for removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil, but their activity can be affected by various stress factors. This study examines the physiological and genome-wide transcription response of the phenanthrene-degrading Sphingomonas sp. strain LH128 in biofilms to solute stress (invoked by 450 mM NaCl solution), either as an acute (4-h) or a chronic (3-day) exposure. The degree of membrane fatty acid saturation was increased as a response to chronic stress. Oxygen consumption in the biofilms and phenanthrene mineralization activities of biofilm cells were, however, not significantly affected after imposing either acute or chronic stress. This finding was in agreement with the transcriptomic data, since genes involved in PAH degradation were not differentially expressed in stressed conditions compared to nonstressed conditions. The transcriptomic data suggest that LH128 adapts to NaCl stress by (i) increasing the expression of genes coping with osmolytic and ionic stress such as biosynthesis of compatible solutes and regulation of ion homeostasis, (ii) increasing the expression of genes involved in general stress response, (iii) changing the expression of general and specific regulatory functions, and (iv) decreasing the expression of protein synthesis such as proteins involved in motility. Differences in gene expression between cells under acute and chronic stress suggest that LH128 goes through changes in genome-wide expression to fully adapt to NaCl stress, without significantly changing phenanthrene degrading activity.
PMCID: PMC3497376  PMID: 23001650
14.  Phage–host interactions during pseudolysogeny 
Bacteriophage  2013;3(1):e25029.
Although the study of phage infection has a long history and catalyzed much of our current understanding in bacterial genetics, molecular biology, evolution and ecology, it seems that microbiologists have only just begun to explore the intricacy of phage–host interactions. In a recent manuscript by Cenens et al. we found molecular and genetic support for pseudolysogenic development in the Salmonella Typhimurium–phage P22 model system. More specifically, we observed the existence of phage carrier cells harboring an episomal P22 element that segregated asymmetrically upon subsequent divisions. Moreover, a newly discovered P22 ORFan protein (Pid) able to derepress a metabolic operon of the host (dgo) proved to be specifically expressed in these phage carrier cells. In this addendum we expand on our view regarding pseudolysogeny and its effects on bacterial and phage biology.
PMCID: PMC3694060  PMID: 23819109
Salmonella Typhimurium; phage P22; phage carrier state; phage–host interactions; pseudolysogeny
15.  A Multifaceted Study of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Shutdown by Virulent Podovirus LUZ19 
mBio  2013;4(2):e00061-13.
In contrast to the rapidly increasing knowledge on genome content and diversity of bacterial viruses, insights in intracellular phage development and its impact on bacterial physiology are very limited. We present a multifaceted study combining quantitative PCR (qPCR), microarray, RNA-seq, and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-GE), to obtain a global overview of alterations in DNA, RNA, and protein content in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 cells upon infection with the strictly lytic phage LUZ19. Viral genome replication occurs in the second half of the phage infection cycle and coincides with degradation of the bacterial genome. At the RNA level, there is a sharp increase in viral mRNAs from 23 to 60% of all transcripts after 5 and 15 min of infection, respectively. Although microarray analysis revealed a complex pattern of bacterial up- and downregulated genes, the accumulation of viral mRNA clearly coincides with a general breakdown of abundant bacterial transcripts. Two-dimensional gel electrophoretic analyses shows no bacterial protein degradation during phage infection, and seven stress-related bacterial proteins appear. Moreover, the two most abundantly expressed early and late-early phage proteins, LUZ19 gene product 13 (Gp13) and Gp21, completely inhibit P. aeruginosa growth when expressed from a single-copy plasmid. Since Gp13 encodes a predicted GNAT acetyltransferase, this observation points at a crucial but yet unexplored level of posttranslational viral control during infection.
Massive genome sequencing has led to important insights into the enormous genetic diversity of bacterial viruses (bacteriophages). However, for nearly all known phages, information on the impact of the phage infection on host physiology and intracellular phage development is scarce. This aspect of phage research should be revitalized, as phages evolved genes which can shut down or redirect bacterial processes in a very efficient way, which can be exploited towards antibacterial design. In this context, we initiated a study of the human opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa under attack by one its most common predators, the Phikmvlikevirus. By analyzing various stages of infection at different levels, this study uncovers new features of phage infection, representing a cornerstone for future studies on members of this phage genus.
PMCID: PMC3604761  PMID: 23512961
16.  Expression of a Novel P22 ORFan Gene Reveals the Phage Carrier State in Salmonella Typhimurium 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003269.
We discovered a novel interaction between phage P22 and its host Salmonella Typhimurium LT2 that is characterized by a phage mediated and targeted derepression of the host dgo operon. Upon further investigation, this interaction was found to be instigated by an ORFan gene (designated pid for phage P22 encoded instigator of dgo expression) located on a previously unannotated moron locus in the late region of the P22 genome, and encoding an 86 amino acid protein of 9.3 kDa. Surprisingly, the Pid/dgo interaction was not observed during strict lytic or lysogenic proliferation of P22, and expression of pid was instead found to arise in cells that upon infection stably maintained an unintegrated phage chromosome that segregated asymmetrically upon subsequent cell divisions. Interestingly, among the emerging siblings, the feature of pid expression remained tightly linked to the cell inheriting this phage carrier state and became quenched in the other. As such, this study is the first to reveal molecular and genetic markers authenticating pseudolysogenic development, thereby exposing a novel mechanism, timing, and populational distribution in the realm of phage–host interactions.
Author Summary
Viruses of bacteria, also referred to as (bacterio)phages, are the most abundant biological entity on earth and have a tremendous impact on the ecology of their hosts. It has traditionally been recognized that upon infection by a temperate phage the host cell is forced either to produce and release new virions during lytic development or to replicate and segregate the phage chromosome together with its own genetic material during lysogenic development. These developmental paths are orchestrated by a dedicated set of phage–host interactions that are able to sense and redirect host cell physiology. In addition to this classical bifurcation of temperate phage development, many studies on phage biology in natural ecosystems hypothesize the existence and significance of stable phage carrier cells that are not engaged in either lytic or lysogenic proliferation. Using Salmonella Typhimurium and phage P22 as a model system, we provide substantial evidence authenticating the existence of the phage carrier state and demonstrate that this state (i) is asymmetrically inherited among carrier cell siblings and (ii) enables the execution of a novel phage–host interaction that is not encountered during lytic or lysogenic proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3573128  PMID: 23483857
17.  A PKS/NRPS/FAS Hybrid Gene Cluster from Serratia plymuthica RVH1 Encoding the Biosynthesis of Three Broad Spectrum, Zeamine-Related Antibiotics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54143.
Serratia plymuthica strain RVH1, initially isolated from an industrial food processing environment, displays potent antimicrobial activity towards a broad spectrum of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. Isolation and subsequent structure determination of bioactive molecules led to the identification of two polyamino antibiotics with the same molecular structure as zeamine and zeamine II as well as a third, closely related analogue, designated zeamine I. The gene cluster encoding the biosynthesis of the zeamine antibiotics was cloned and sequenced and shown to encode FAS, PKS as well as NRPS related enzymes in addition to putative tailoring and export enzymes. Interestingly, several genes show strong homology to the pfa cluster of genes involved in the biosynthesis of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in marine bacteria. We postulate that a mixed FAS/PKS and a hybrid NRPS/PKS assembly line each synthesize parts of the backbone that are linked together post-assembly in the case of zeamine and zeamine I. This interaction reflects a unique interplay between secondary lipid and secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Most likely, the zeamine antibiotics are produced as prodrugs that undergo activation in which a nonribosomal peptide sequence is cleaved off.
PMCID: PMC3547906  PMID: 23349809
18.  Selection and Characterization of a Candidate Therapeutic Bacteriophage That Lyses the Escherichia coli O104:H4 Strain from the 2011 Outbreak in Germany 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52709.
In 2011, a novel strain of O104:H4 Escherichia coli caused a serious outbreak of foodborne hemolytic uremic syndrome and bloody diarrhea in Germany. Antibiotics were of questionable use and 54 deaths occurred. Candidate therapeutic bacteriophages that efficiently lyse the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak strain could be selected rather easily from a phage bank or isolated from the environment. It is argued that phage therapy should be more considered as a potential armament against the growing threat of (resistant) bacterial infections.
PMCID: PMC3528706  PMID: 23285164
19.  Total Synthesis of Septocylindrin B and C-Terminus Modified Analogues 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51708.
The total synthesis is reported of the peptaibol Septocylindrin B which is related to the well documented channel forming peptaibol antibiotic Alamethicin. Several analogues were synthesized with a modified C-terminus, to investigate the SAR of the terminal residue Phaol. All these peptides were tested for their membrane perturbation properties by fluorescent dye leakage assay and for their antibacterial activity.
PMCID: PMC3527430  PMID: 23284749
20.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Giant Virus OBP and Comparative Genome Analysis of the Diverse ϕKZ-Related Phages 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(3):1844-1852.
The 283,757-bp double-stranded DNA genome of Pseudomonas fluorescens phage OBP shares a general genomic organization with Pseudomonas aeruginosa phage EL. Comparison of this genomic organization, assembled in syntenic genomic blocks interspersed with hyperplastic regions of the ϕKZ-related phages, supports the proposed division in the “EL-like viruses,” and the “phiKZ-like viruses” within a larger subfamily. Identification of putative early transcription promoters scattered throughout the hyperplastic regions explains several features of the ϕKZ-related genome organization (existence of genomic islands) and evolution (multi-inversion in hyperplastic regions). When hidden Markov modeling was used, typical conserved core genes could be identified, including the portal protein, the injection needle, and two polypeptides with respective similarity to the 3′-5′ exonuclease domain and the polymerase domain of the T4 DNA polymerase. While the N-terminal domains of the tail fiber module and peptidoglycan-degrading proteins are conserved, the observation of C-terminal catalytic domains typical for the different genera supports the further subdivision of the ϕKZ-related phages.
PMCID: PMC3264338  PMID: 22130535
21.  A suggested new bacteriophage genus: “Viunalikevirus” 
Archives of Virology  2012;157(10):2035-2046.
We suggest a bacteriophage genus, “Viunalikevirus”, as a new genus within the family Myoviridae. To date, this genus includes seven sequenced members: Salmonella phages ViI, SFP10 and ΦSH19; Escherichia phages CBA120 and PhaxI; Shigella phage phiSboM-AG3; and Dickeya phage LIMEstone1. Their shared myovirus morphology, with comparable head sizes and tail dimensions, and genome organization are considered distinguishing features. They appear to have conserved regulatory sequences, a horizontally acquired tRNA set and the probable substitution of an alternate base for thymine in the DNA. A close examination of the tail spike region in the DNA revealed four distinct tail spike proteins, an arrangement which might lead to the umbrella-like structures of the tails visible on electron micrographs. These properties set the suggested genus apart from the recently ratified subfamily Tevenvirinae, although a significant evolutionary relationship can be observed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00705-012-1360-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4174289  PMID: 22707043
22.  A Novel Hydrolase Identified by Genomic-Proteomic Analysis of Phenylurea Herbicide Mineralization by Variovorax sp. Strain SRS16▿† 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(24):8754-8764.
The soil bacterial isolate Variovorax sp. strain SRS16 mineralizes the phenylurea herbicide linuron. The proposed pathway initiates with hydrolysis of linuron to 3,4-dichloroaniline (DCA) and N,O-dimethylhydroxylamine, followed by conversion of DCA to Krebs cycle intermediates. Differential proteomic analysis showed a linuron-dependent upregulation of several enzymes that fit into this pathway, including an amidase (LibA), a multicomponent chloroaniline dioxygenase, and enzymes associated with a modified chlorocatechol ortho-cleavage pathway. Purified LibA is a monomeric linuron hydrolase of ∼55 kDa with a Km and a Vmax for linuron of 5.8 μM and 0.16 nmol min−1, respectively. This novel member of the amidase signature family is unrelated to phenylurea-hydrolyzing enzymes from Gram-positive bacteria and lacks activity toward other tested phenylurea herbicides. Orthologues of libA are present in all other tested linuron-degrading Variovorax strains with the exception of Variovorax strains WDL1 and PBS-H4, suggesting divergent evolution of the linuron catabolic pathway in different Variovorax strains. The organization of the linuron degradation genes identified in the draft SRS16 genome sequence indicates that gene patchwork assembly is at the origin of the pathway. Transcription analysis suggests that a catabolic intermediate, rather than linuron itself, acts as effector in activation of the pathway. Our study provides the first report on the genetic organization of a bacterial pathway for complete mineralization of a phenylurea herbicide and the first report on a linuron hydrolase in Gram-negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3233098  PMID: 22003008
23.  A theoretical and experimental proteome map of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 
MicrobiologyOpen  2012;1(2):169-181.
A total proteome map of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 proteome is presented, generated by a combination of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and protein identification by mass spectrometry. In total, 1128 spots were visualized, and 181 protein spots were characterized, corresponding to 159 different protein entries. In particular, protein chaperones and enzymes important in energy conversion and amino acid biosynthesis were identified. Spot analysis always resulted in the identification of a single protein, suggesting sufficient spot resolution, although the same protein may be detected in two or more neighboring spots, possibly indicating posttranslational modifications. Comparison to the theoretical proteome revealed an underrepresentation of membrane proteins, though the identified proteins cover all predicted subcellular localizations and all functional classes. These data provide a basis for subsequent comparative studies of the biology and metabolism of P. aeruginosa, aimed at unraveling global regulatory networks.
PMCID: PMC3426416  PMID: 22950023
Mass spectrometry (MS); proteomics; two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE)
24.  Genome and proteome analysis of 7-7-1, a flagellotropic phage infecting Agrobacterium sp H13-3 
Virology Journal  2012;9:102.
The flagellotropic phage 7-7-1 infects motile cells of Agrobacterium sp H13-3 by attaching to and traveling along the rotating flagellar filament to the secondary receptor at the base, where it injects its DNA into the host cell. Here we describe the complete genomic sequence of 69,391 base pairs of this unusual bacteriophage.
The sequence of the 7-7-1 genome was determined by pyro(454)sequencing to a coverage of 378-fold. It was annotated using MyRAST and a variety of internet resources. The structural proteome was analyzed by SDS-PAGE coupled electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS).
Sequence annotation and a structural proteome analysis revealed 127 open reading frames, 84 of which are unique. In six cases 7-7-1 proteins showed sequence similarity to proteins from the virulent Burkholderia myovirus BcepB1A. Unique features of the 7-7-1 genome are the physical separation of the genes encoding the small (orf100) and large (orf112) subunits of the DNA packaging complex and the apparent lack of a holin-lysin cassette. Proteomic analysis revealed the presence of 24 structural proteins, five of which were identified as baseplate (orf7), putative tail fibre (orf102), portal (orf113), major capsid (orf115) and tail sheath (orf126) proteins. In the latter case, the N-terminus was removed during capsid maturation, probably by a putative prohead protease (orf114).
PMCID: PMC3517404  PMID: 22650361
Agrobacterium; Phage evolution; Phage ecology; Genome; Proteome; Complex flagellum; Bioinformatics; Posttranslational modification
25.  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

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