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1.  Genome analysis of the staphylococcal temperate phage DW2 and functional studies on the endolysin and tail hydrolase 
Bacteriophage  2014;4:e28451.
This study describes the genome of temperate Siphoviridae phage DW2, which is routinely propagated on Staphylococcus aureus DPC5246. The 41941 bp genome revealed an open reading frame (ORF1) which has a high level of homology with members of the resolvase subfamily of site-specific serine recombinase, involved in chromosomal integration and excision. In contrast, the majority of staphylococcal phages reported to date encode tyrosine recombinases. Two putative genes encoded by phage DW2 (ORF15 and ORF24) were highly homologous to the NWMN0273 and NWMN0280 genes encoding virulence factors carried on the genome of ϕNM4, a prophage in the genome of S. aureus Newman. Phage DW2 also encodes proteins highly homologous to two well-characterized Staphylococcus aureus pathogenicity island derepressors encoded by the staphylococcal helper phage 80α indicating that it may similarly act as a helper phage for mobility of pathogenicity islands in S. aureus. This study also focused on the enzybiotic potential of phage DW2. The structure of the putative endolysin and tail hydrolase were investigated and used as the basis for a cloning strategy to create recombinant peptidoglycan hydrolyzing proteins. After overexpression in E. coli, four of these proteins (LysDW2, THDW2, CHAPE1-153, and CHAPE1-163) were demonstrated to have hydrolytic activity against peptidoglycan of S. aureus and thus represent novel candidates for exploitation as enzybiotics.
PMCID: PMC4124061  PMID: 25105056
bacteriophage; Staphylococcus; endolysin; virion-associated peptidoglycan hydrolase; virulence; serine recombinase
2.  The truncated phage lysin CHAPk eliminates Staphylococcus aureus in the nares of mice 
Bioengineered Bugs  2010;1(6):404-407.
The endolysin LysK derived from staphylococcal phage K has previously been shown to have two enzymatic domains, one of which is an N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase and the other a cysteine/histidine-dependant amidohydrolase/peptidase designated CHAPk. The latter, when cloned as a single-domain truncated enzyme, is conveniently overexpressed in a highly-soluble form. This enzyme was shown to be highly active in vitro against live cell suspensions of S. aureus. In the current study, the IVIS imaging system was used to demonstrate the effective elimination of a lux labeled S. aureus from the nares of BALB/c mice.
PMCID: PMC3056090  PMID: 21468207
Staphylococcus; decolonization; lysin; bacteriophage; nasal
3.  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
4.  Rapid Real-Time PCR Assay for Detection and Quantitation of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA in Artificially Contaminated Milk 
Using fluorescence resonance energy transfer technology and Lightcycler analysis, we developed a real-time PCR assay with primers and probes designed by using IS900 which allowed rapid detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA in artificially contaminated milk. Initially, the PCR parameters (including primer and probe levels, assay volume, Mg2+ concentration, and annealing temperature) were optimized. Subsequently, the quantitative ability of the assay was tested and was found to be accurate over a broad linear range (3 × 106 to 3 × 101 copies). The assay sensitivity when purified DNA was used was determined to be as low as five copies, with excellent reproducibility. A range of DNA isolation strategies was developed for isolating M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis DNA from spiked milk, the most effective of which involved the use of 50 mM Tris HCl, 10 mM EDTA, 2% Triton X-100, 4 M guanidinium isothiocyante, and 0.3 M sodium acetate combined with boiling, physical grinding, and nucleic acid spin columns. When this technique was used in conjunction with the real-time PCR assay, it was possible to consistently detect <100 organisms per ml of milk (equivalent to 2,000 organisms per 25 ml). Furthermore, the entire procedure (extraction and PCR) was performed in less than 3 h and was successfully adapted to quantify M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in spiked milk from heavily and mildly contaminated samples.
PMCID: PMC492435  PMID: 15294786
5.  VP4 and VP7 Genotyping of Rotavirus Samples Recovered from Infected Children in Ireland over a 3-Year Period 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(6):1699-1703.
Between September 1995 and August 1998, the incidence and diversity of the main human rotavirus genotypes (G1, G2, G3, and G4 and P[8], P[4], P[6], and P[9]) among Irish children were determined by using established and adapted reverse transcriptase PCR-based genotyping methods. From a total of 193 rotavirus-positive specimens collected from nine hospitals we successfully identified the P type in 182 (94%) of the samples and the G type in 165 (85.5%) of the samples. Only four samples could not be assigned a G or P type. Two P types existed in Ireland, P[8] (78%) and P[4] (16%), and their relative incidence varied over the 3 years of this study. No P[6] or P[9] types were detected. G1 was the most predominant G type (55%), and the incidences of G2, G3, and G4 isolates were 15.5, 1, and 11%, respectively. Three percent of the samples tested had a mixed G type. A P and G type was assigned to 158 (81.8%) of samples. Of the typeable samples, G1 P[8] was the most prevalent (65%), whereas G2 P[4] (17%), G3 P[8] (1%), G4 P[8] (12%), and mixed types (all G1/ G4 P[8]) (4%) were detected less frequently. In the third year a significant genotypic shift from G1 P[8] to G2 P[4] and G4 P[8] was observed. During the study, we noticed that the inclusion of random primers during cDNA synthesis greatly increased the specificity of the PCR typing assays. No correlation was seen between the contributing hospitals and a specific genotype. In conclusion, the coverage of infection given by the recently licensed tetravalent vaccine would be significantly high in Ireland, although future monitoring of genotypic changes among Irish isolates should be encouraged.
PMCID: PMC84927  PMID: 10325310

Results 1-5 (5)