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    Bacteriophage-encoded lysins are increasingly reported as alternatives to combat Acinetobacter baumannii infections, for which limited therapeutic options are available. Some lysins, such as LysMK34, have a C-terminal amphipathic helix allowing them to penetrate the otherwise-impermeable outer membrane barrier. Another approach to kill Gram-negative pathogens with lysins relies on fusion of a peptide with outer membrane-permeabilizing properties to the lysin. In this work, we aimed to leverage the intrinsic antibacterial activity of LysMK34 by fusing the peptide cecropin A to its N terminus via a linker of three Ala-Gly repeats, resulting in engineered LysMK34 (eLysMK34). The engineered lysin has an improved antibacterial activity compared to that of the parental lysin, LysMK34, in terms of MICs (0.45 to 1.2 μM), killing rate, and killing extent. eLysMK34 has a ≥2-fold-increased activity against stationary-phase cells, and the bactericidal effect becomes less dependent on the intracellular osmotic pressure. In particular, colistin-resistant strains become highly susceptible to eLysMK34, and enhanced antibacterial activity is observed in complement-deactivated human serum. These observations demonstrate that fusion of a lysin with intrinsic antibacterial activity with a selected outer membrane-permeabilizing peptide is a useful strategy to further improve the in vitro antibacterial properties of such lysins. IMPORTANCE Phage lysins are a new class of enzyme-based antibiotics that increasingly gain interest. Lysins kill cells through rapid degradation of the peptidoglycan layer, resulting in sudden osmotic lysis. Whereas Gram-positive bacteria are readily susceptible to the actions of lysins, Gram-negative bacteria are naturally resistant, as the outer membrane protects their peptidoglycan layer. This work reveals that fusing an outer membrane-permeabilizing peptide to a lysin with intrinsic antibacterial activity results in a superior lysin that shows improved robustness in its antibacterial activity, including against the most worrisome colistin-resistant A. baumannii strains.


    Karim Abdelkader, Diana Gutiérrez, Héctor Tamés-Caunedo, Patricia Ruas-Madiedo, Amal Safaan, Ahmed S Khairalla, Yasser Gaber, Tarek Dishisha, Yves Briers. Engineering a Lysin with Intrinsic Antibacterial Activity (LysMK34) by Cecropin A Fusion Enhances Its Antibacterial Properties against Acinetobacter baumannii. Applied and environmental microbiology. 2022 Jan 11;88(1):e0151521

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    PMID: 34669452

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