External lysis of Escherichia coli by a bacteriophage endolysin modified with hydrophobic amino acids

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Drug-resistant bacteria are a serious threat to global public health. Gram-positive bacterial endolysin preparations have been successfully used to fight Gram-positive bacteria as a novel antimicrobial replacement strategy. However, Gram-negative bacterial phage endolysins cannot be applied directly to destroy Gram-negative strains due to the externally inaccessible peptidoglycan layer of the cell wall; this has seriously hampered the development of endolysin-like antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria. In this study, 3–12 hydrophobic amino acids were successively added to the C-terminus of Escherichia coli phage endolysin Lysep3 to create five different hydrophobic-modified endolysins. Compared with endogenous Lysep3, endolysins modified with hydrophobic amino acids surprisingly could kill E. coli from outside of the cell at the appropriate pH and endolysin concentration. The lysis ability of modified endolysins were enhanced with increasing numbers of hydrophobic amino acids at the C-terminus of endolysin. Thus, these findings demonstrate that the enhancement of hydrophobicity at the C-terminus enables the endolysin to act upon E. coli from the outside, representing a novel method of lysing Gram-negative antibiotic-resistant bacteria.




Yan, G., Yang, R., Fan, K., Dong, H., Gao, C., Wang, S., … Lei, L. (2019). External lysis of Escherichia coli by a bacteriophage endolysin modified with hydrophobic amino acids. AMB Express, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13568-019-0838-x

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