Exploiting phage receptor binding proteins to enable endolysins to kill Gram-negative bacteria

Athina Zampara, Martine C. Holst Sørensen, Dennis Grimon, Fabio Antenucci, Amira Ruslanovna Vitt, Valeria Bortolaia, Yves Briers, Lone Brøndsted*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Bacteriophage-encoded endolysins degrading the bacterial peptidoglycan are promising antibacterials for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, endolysins have limited use against Gram-negative bacteria, since the outer membrane prevents access to the peptidoglycan. Here, we present Innolysins, an innovative concept for engineering endolysins to exert antibacterial activity against Gram-negative bacteria. Innolysins combine the enzymatic activity of endolysins with the binding capacity of phage receptor binding proteins (RBPs). As proof-of-concept, we constructed 12 Innolysins by fusing phage T5 endolysin and RBP Pb5 in different configurations. One of these, Innolysin Ec6 displayed antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli only in the presence of Pb5 receptor FhuA, leading to 1.22 ± 0.12 log reduction in cell counts. Accordingly, other bacterial species carrying FhuA homologs such as Shigella sonnei and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were sensitive to Innolysin Ec6. To enhance the antibacterial activity, we further constructed 228 novel Innolysins by fusing 23 endolysins with Pb5. High-throughput screening allowed to select Innolysin Ec21 as the best antibacterial candidate, leading to 2.20 ± 0.09 log reduction in E. coli counts. Interestingly, Innolysin Ec21 also displayed bactericidal activity against E. coli resistant to third-generation cephalosporins, reaching a 3.31 ± 0.53 log reduction in cell counts. Overall, the Innolysin approach expands previous endolysin-engineering strategies, allowing customization of endolysins by exploiting phage RBPs to specifically target Gram-negative bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12087
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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