• Bacteriocin Gene-Trait matching across the complete Lactobacillus Pan-genome.

      Collins, Fergus W. J.; O'Connor, Paula M.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Gómez-Sala, Beatriz; Rea, Mary; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/227; 13/SIRG/2160 (Nature, 2017-06-14)
      Lactobacilli constitute a large genus of Gram-positive lactic acid bacteria which have widespread roles ranging from gut commensals to starters in fermented foods. A combination of in silico and laboratory-based screening allowed us to determine the overall bacteriocin producing potential of representative strains of each species of the genus. The genomes of 175 lactobacilli and 38 associated species were screened for the presence of antimicrobial producing genes and combined with screening for antimicrobial activity against a range of indicators. There also appears to be a link between the strains’ environment and bacteriocin production, with those from the animal and human microbiota encoding over twice as many bacteriocins as those from other sources. Five novel bacteriocins were identified belonging to differing bacteriocin classes, including two-peptide bacteriocins (muricidin and acidocin X) and circular bacteriocins (paracyclicin). In addition, there was a clear clustering of helveticin type bacteriolysins in the Lactobacillus acidophilus group of species. This combined in silico and in vitro approach to screening has demonstrated the true diversity and complexity of bacteriocins across the genus. It also highlights their biological importance in terms of communication and competition between closely related strains in diverse complex microbial environments.
    • Bactofencin A, a New Type of Cationic Bacteriocin with Unusual Immunity

      O'Shea, Eileen F.; O'Connor, Paula M.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; 04R; 07/CE/B1368 (American Society for Microbiology, 29/10/2013)
      Bacteriocin production is an important probiotic trait of intestinal bacteria. In this study, we identify a new type of bacteriocin, bactofencin A, produced by a porcine intestinal isolate Lactobacillus salivarius DPC6502, and assess its potency against pathogenic species including Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. Genome sequencing of the bacteriocin producer revealed bfnA, which encodes the mature and highly basic (pI 10.59), 22-amino-acid defensin-like peptide. Matrixassisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectral analysis determined that bactofencin A has a molecular mass of 2,782 Da and contains two cysteine residues that form an intramolecular disulfide bond. Although an ABC transporter and transport accessory protein were also present within the bacteriocin gene cluster, a classical bacteriocin immunity gene was not detected. Interestingly, a dltB homologue was identified downstream of bfnA. DltB is usually encoded within the dlt operon of many Gram-positive bacteria. It is responsible for D-alanylation of teichoic acids in the cell wall and has previously been associated with bacterial resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides. Heterologous expression of this gene conferred bactofencin A-specific immunity on sensitive strains of L. salivarius and S. aureus (although not L. monocytogenes), establishing its role in bacteriocin immunity. An analysis of the distribution of bfnA revealed that it was present in four additional isolates derived from porcine origin and absent from five human isolates, suggesting that its distribution is host specific. Given its novelty, we anticipate that bactofencin A represents the prototype of a new class of bacteriocins characterized as being cationic, with a DltB homologue providing a cognate immunity function.
    • Efficacy of nisin A and nisin V semi-purified preparations alone and in combination with plant essential oils to control Listeria monocytogenes

      Field, Des; Daly, Karen M.; O'Connor, Paula M.; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; 10/IN.1/B3027; 06/IN.1/B98 (American Society for Microbiology, 06/02/2015)
      The foodborne pathogenic bacterium Listeria is known for relatively low morbidity and high mortality rates reaching up to 25-30%. Listeria is a hardy organism and its control in foods represents a significant challenge. Many naturally occurring compounds, including the bacteriocin nisin and a number of plant essential oils, have been widely studied and are reported to be effective as antimicrobial agents against spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms. The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of semi-purified preparations (spp) containing either nisin A or an enhanced bioengineered derivative nisin V, alone and in combination with low concentrations of the essential oils thymol, carvacrol and trans-cinnamaldehyde, to control L. monocytogenes in both laboratory media and model food systems. Combinations of nisin V-containing spp (25 μg/ml) with thymol (0.02%), carvacrol (0.02%) or cinnamaldehyde (0.02%) produced a significantly longer lag phase than any of the essential oil/nisin A combinations. In addition, the log reduction in cell counts achieved by the nisin V + carvacrol or nisin V + cinnamaldehyde combinations was twice that of the equivalent nisin A + essential oil treatment. Significantly, this enhanced activity was validated in model food systems against L. monocytogenes strains of food origin. We conclude that the fermentate form of nisin V in combination with carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde offers significant advantages as a novel, natural and effective means to enhance food safety by inhibiting foodborne pathogens such as L. monocytogenes.
    • In vivo activity of Nisin A and Nisin V against Listeria monocytogenes in mice

      Campion, Alicia; Casey, Patrick G.; Field, Des; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; Enterprise Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland (Biomed Central, 01/02/2013)
      Background: Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides, of which nisin A is the most extensively studied example. Bioengineering of nisin A has resulted in the generation of derivatives with increased in vitro potency against Gram-positive bacteria. Of these, nisin V (containing a Met21Val change) is noteworthy by virtue of exhibiting enhanced antimicrobial efficacy against a wide range of clinical and food-borne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, this increased potency has not been tested in vivo. Results: Here we address this issue by assessing the ability of nisin A and nisin V to control a bioluminescent strain of Listeria monocytogenes EGDe in a murine infection model. More specifically, Balb/c mice were infected via the intraperitoneal route at a dose of 1 × 105 cfu/animal and subsequently treated intraperitoneally with either nisin V, nisin A or a PBS control. Bioimaging of the mice was carried out on day 3 of the trial. Animals were then sacrificed and levels of infection were quantified in the liver and spleen. Conclusion: This analysis revealed that nisin V was more effective than Nisin A with respect to controlling infection and therefore merits further investigation with a view to potential chemotherapeutic applications.
    • Production of bioactive substances by intestinal bacteria as a basis for explaining probiotic mechanisms: Bacteriocins and conjugated linoleic acid

      O'Shea, Eileen F.; Cotter, Paul D.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; 04R & DC; 07/CE/B1368 (Elsevier Science B.V., 16/01/2012)
      The mechanisms by which intestinal bacteria achieve their associated health benefits can be complex and multifaceted. In this respect, the diverse microbial composition of the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) provides an almost unlimited potential source of bioactive substances (pharmabiotics) which can directly or indirectly affect human health. Bacteriocins and fatty acids are just two examples of pharmabiotic substances which may contribute to probiotic functionality within the mammalian GIT. Bacteriocin production is believed to confer producing strains with a competitive advantage within complex microbial environments as a consequence of their associated antimicrobial activity. This has the potential to enable the establishment and prevalence of producing strains as well as directly inhibiting pathogens within the GIT. Consequently, these antimicrobial peptides and the associated intestinal producing strains may be exploited to beneficially influence microbial populations. Intestinal bacteria are also known to produce a diverse array of health-promoting fatty acids. Indeed, certain strains of intestinal bifidobacteria have been shown to produce conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid which has been associated with a variety of systemic health-promoting effects. Recently, the ability to modulate the fatty acid composition of the liver and adipose tissue of the host upon oral administration of CLA-producing bifidobacteria and lactobacilli was demonstrated in a murine model. Importantly, this implies a potential therapeutic role for probiotics in the treatment of certain metabolic and immunoinflammatory disorders. Such examples serve to highlight the potential contribution of pharmabiotic production to probiotic functionality in relation to human health maintenance.
    • Synthesis of trypsin-resistant variants of the Listeria-active bacteriocin salivaricin P

      O'Shea, Eileen F.; O'Connor, Paula M.; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (American Society for Microbiology, 25/06/2010)
      Two-component Salivaricin P-like bacteriocins have demonstrated potential as antimicrobials capable of controlling infections in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The anti-Listeria activity of salivaricin P is optimal when the individual peptides, Sln1 and Sln2, are added in succession in a 1:1 ratio. However, as degradation by digestive proteases may compromise the functionality of these peptides within the GIT we investigated the potential to create salivaricin variants with enhanced resistance to the intestinal protease, trypsin. A total of 11 variants of the salivaricin P components were generated in which conservative modifications at the trypsin-specific cleavage sites were explored in order to protect the peptides from trypsin degradation while maintaining their potent antimicrobial activity. Analysis of these variants revealed that eight were resistant to trypsin digestion while retaining antimicrobial activity. Combining the complementary trypsin resistant variants Sln1-5 and Sln2-3 resulted in a MIC50 of 300 nM against Listeria monocytogenes, a 3.75-fold reduction in activity compared to wild-type salivaricin P. This study demonstrates the potential of engineering bacteriocins variants which are resistant to specific protease action but which retain significant antimicrobial activity.
    • The two peptide lantibiotic lacticin 3147 acts synergistically with polymyxin to inhibit Gram negative bacteria

      Draper, Lorraine A.; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; 10/IN.1/B3027 (Biomed Central, 26/09/2013)
      Background: The emergence of bacterial drug resistance encourages the re-evaluation of the potential of existing antimicrobials. Lantibiotics are post-translationally modified, ribosomally synthesised antimicrobial peptides with a broad spectrum antimicrobial activity. Here, we focussed on expanding the potential of lacticin 3147, one of the most studied lantibiotics and one which possesses potent activity against a wide range of Gram positive species including many nosocomial pathogens. More specifically, our aim was to investigate if lacticin 3147 activity could be enhanced when combined with a range of different clinical antibiotics. Results: Initial screening revealed that polymyxin B and polymyxin E (colistin) exhibited synergistic activity with lacticin 3147. Checkerboard assays were performed against a number of strains, including both Gram positive and Gram negative species. The resultant fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) index values established that, while partial synergy was detected against Gram positive targets, synergy was obvious against Gram negative species, including Cronobacter and E. coli. Conclusions: Combining lacticin 3147 with low levels of a polymyxin could provide a means of broadening target specificity of the lantibiotic, while also reducing polymyxin use due to the lower concentrations required as a result of synergy.