• Actinomyces Produces Defensin-Like Bacteriocins (Actifensins) with a Highly Degenerate Structure and Broad Antimicrobial Activity

      Sugrue, Ivan; O’Connor, Paula M.; Hill, Colin; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R. Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; JPI; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (American Society for Microbiology, 2020-01-29)
      We identified a strain of Actinomyces ruminicola which produces a potent bacteriocin with activity against a broad range of Gram-positive bacteria, many of which are pathogenic to animals and humans. The bacteriocin was purified and found to have a mass of 4,091 ± 1 Da with a sequence of GFGCNLITSNPYQCSNHCKSVGYRGGYCKLRTVCTCY containing three disulfide bridges. Surprisingly, near relatives of actifensin were found to be a series of related eukaryotic defensins displaying greater than 50% identity to the bacteriocin. A pangenomic screen further revealed that production of actifensin-related bacteriocins is a common trait within the genus, with 47 being encoded in 161 genomes. Furthermore, these bacteriocins displayed a remarkable level of diversity with a mean amino acid identity of only 52% between strains/species. This level of redundancy suggests that this new class of bacteriocins may provide a very broad structural basis on which to deliver and design new broad-spectrum antimicrobials for treatment of animal and human infections. IMPORTANCE Bacteriocins (ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides) are potential alternatives to current antimicrobials given the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. We identified a novel bacteriocin from Actinomyces ruminicola with no previously characterized antimicrobial activity. Using publicly available genomic data, we found a highly conserved yet divergent family of previously unidentified homologous peptide sequences within the genus Actinomyces with striking similarity to eukaryotic defensins. These actifensins may provide a potent line of antimicrobial defense/offense, and the machinery to produce them could be used for the design of new antimicrobials given the degeneracy that exists naturally in their structure.
    • Bacteriocins: Novel Solutions to Age Old Spore-Related Problems?

      Egan, Kevin; Field, Des; Rea, Mary; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Cotter, Paul D.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; DAFM 13/F/462; TIDA 14/TIDA/2286; et al. (Frontiers Media S. A., 08/04/2016)
      Bacteriocins are ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria, which have the ability to kill or inhibit other bacteria. Many bacteriocins are produced by food grade lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Indeed, the prototypic bacteriocin, nisin, is produced by Lactococcus lactis, and is licensed in over 50 countries. With consumers becoming more concerned about the levels of chemical preservatives present in food, bacteriocins offer an alternative, more natural approach, while ensuring both food safety and product shelf life. Bacteriocins also show additive/synergistic effects when used in combination with other treatments, such as heating, high pressure, organic compounds, and as part of food packaging. These features are particularly attractive from the perspective of controlling sporeforming bacteria. Bacterial spores are common contaminants of food products, and their outgrowth may cause food spoilage or food-borne illness. They are of particular concern to the food industry due to their thermal and chemical resistance in their dormant state. However, when spores germinate they lose the majority of their resistance traits, making them susceptible to a variety of food processing treatments. Bacteriocins represent one potential treatment as they may inhibit spores in the post-germination/outgrowth phase of the spore cycle. Spore eradication and control in food is critical, as they are able to spoil and in certain cases compromise the safety of food by producing dangerous toxins. Thus, understanding the mechanisms by which bacteriocins exert their sporostatic/sporicidal activity against bacterial spores will ultimately facilitate their optimal use in food. This review will focus on the use of bacteriocins alone, or in combination with other innovative processing methods to control spores in food, the current knowledge and gaps therein with regard to bacteriocin-spore interactions and discuss future research approaches to enable spores to be more effectively targeted by bacteriocins in food settings.
    • Beneficial modulation of the gut microbiota

      Cotter, Paul D. (Elsevier BV, 2016-04-01)
      As the scientific community continues to develop an ever-greater understanding of the composition and function of the human gut microbiota, and the role of specific microbial populations in health and disease, attention has turned to the tools that are at our disposal with respect to altering these microbes in a beneficial way. The options available include the use of diet, probiotics/prebiotics, antimicrobials and, potentially, exercise. Here, our recent investigations of the relationship between protein, bacteriocin producing probiotics and exercise and the gut microbiota and, in turn, health will be described.
    • Bioengineering Lantibiotics for Therapeutic Success

      Field, Des; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; TIDA14/TIDA/2286; 10/IN.1/B3027; 11/PI/1137; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Frontiers Media S. A., 2015-11)
      Several examples of highly modified antimicrobial peptides have been described. While many such peptides are non-ribosomally synthesized, ribosomally synthesized equivalents are being discovered with increased frequency. Of the latter group, the lantibiotics continue to attract most attention. In the present review, we discuss the implementation of in vivo and in vitro engineering systems to alter, and even enhance, the antimicrobial activity, antibacterial spectrum and physico-chemical properties, including heat stability, solubility, diffusion and protease resistance, of these compounds. Additionally, we discuss the potential applications of these lantibiotics for use as therapeutics.
    • Controlled functional expression of the bacteriocins pediocin PA-1 and bactofencin A in Escherichia coli

      Mesa-Pereira, Beatriz; O’Connor, Paula M.; Rea, Mary; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Nature Publishing Group, 2017-06-08)
      The bacteriocins bactofencin A (class IId) and pediocin PA-1 (class IIa) are encoded by operons with a similarly clustered gene organization including a structural peptide, an immunity protein, an ABC transporter and accessory bacteriocin transporter protein. Cloning of these operons in E. coli TunerTM (DE3) on a pETcoco-2 derived vector resulted in successful secretion of both bacteriocins. A corresponding approach, involving the construction of vectors containing different combinations of these genes, revealed that the structural and the transporter genes alone are sufficient to permit heterologous production and secretion in this host. Even though the accessory protein, usually associated with optimal disulfide bond formation, was not required for bacteriocin synthesis, its presence did result in greater pediocin PA-1 production. The simplicity of the system and the fact that the associated bacteriocins could be recovered from the extracellular medium provides an opportunity to facilitate protein engineering and the overproduction of biologically-active bacteriocins at industrial scale. Additionally, this system could enable the characterization of new bacteriocin operons where genetic tools are not available for the native producers.
    • Human skin microbiota is a rich source of bacteriocin-producing staphylococci that kill human pathogens

      O'Sullivan, Julie N; Rea, Mary; O'Connor, Paula M; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018-12-24)
      The demand for novel antimicrobial therapies due to the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance has resulted in a growing interest in the protective role of our skin bacteria and the importance of competition among bacteria on the skin. A survey of the cultivable bacteria on human skin was undertaken to identify the capacity of the skin microbiota to produce bacteriocins with activity against skin pathogens. Twenty-one bacteriocins produced by bacteria isolated from seven sites on the human body of each subject exhibited inhibition spectra ranging from broad to narrow range, inhibiting many Gram-positive bacteria, including opportunistic skin pathogens such as Propionibacterium acnes (recently renamed Cutibacterium acnes), Staphylococcus epidermidis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Sequencing indicated that the antimicrobial-producing isolates were predominately species/strains of the Staphylococcus genus. Colony mass spectrometry revealed peptide masses that do not correspond to known bacteriocins. In an era where antibiotic resistance is of major concern, the inhibitory effect of novel bacteriocins from the bacteria of skin origin demonstrates the antimicrobial potential that could be harnessed from within the human skin microbiota.
    • In Vitro Activities of Nisin and Nisin Derivatives Alone and In Combination with Antibiotics against Staphylococcus Biofilms

      Field, Des; O'Connor, Rory; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; TIDA14/TIDA/2286); 10/IN.1/B3027; 11/PI/1137; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Frontiers Media S. A., 18/04/2016)
      The development and spread of pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to the existing catalog of antibiotics is a major public health threat. Biofilms are complex, sessile communities of bacteria embedded in an organic polymer matrix which serve to further enhance antimicrobial resistance. Consequently, novel compounds and innovative methods are urgently required to arrest the proliferation of drug-resistant infections in both nosocomial and community environments. Accordingly, it has been suggested that antimicrobial peptides could be used as novel natural inhibitors that can be used in formulations with synergistically acting antibiotics. Nisin is a member of the lantibiotic family of antimicrobial peptides that exhibit potent antibacterial activity against many Gram-positive bacteria. Recently we have used bioengineering strategies to enhance the activity of nisin against several high profile targets, including multi-drug resistant clinical pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycinresistant enterococci, staphylococci, and streptococci associated with bovine mastitis. We have also identified nisin derivatives with an enhanced ability to impair biofilm formation and to reduce the density of established biofilms of methicillin resistant S. pseudintermedius. The present study was aimed at evaluating the potential of nisin and nisin derivatives to increase the efficacy of conventional antibiotics and to assess the possibility of killing and/or eradicating biofilm-associated cells of a variety of staphylococcal targets. Growth curve-based comparisons established that combinations of derivatives nisin V C penicillin or nisin I4V C chloramphenicol had an enhanced inhibitory effect against S. aureus SA113 and S. pseudintermedius DSM21284, respectively, compared to the equivalent nisin A C antibiotic combinations or when each antimicrobial was administered alone. Furthermore, the metabolic activity of established biofilms treated with nisin V C chloramphenicol and nisin I4V C chloramphenicol combinations revealed a significant decrease in S. aureus SA113 and S. pseudintermedius DSM21284 biofilm viability, respectively, compared to the nisin A C antibiotic combinations as determined by the rapid colorimetric XTT assay. The results indicate that the activities of the nisin derivative and antibiotic combinations represent a significant improvement over that of the wild-type nisin and antibiotic combination and merit further investigation with a view to their use as anti-biofilm agents.
    • Lactobacillus acidophilus JCM 1132 Strain and Its Mutant with Different Bacteriocin-Producing Behaviour Have Various In Situ Effects on the Gut Microbiota of Healthy Mice

      Wang, Gang; Yu, Yunxia; Garcia-Gutierrez, Enriqueta; Jin, Xing; He, Yufeng; Wang, Linlin; Tian, Peijun; Liu, Zhenmin; Zhao, Jianxin; Zhang, Hao; et al. (MDPI AG, 2019-12-25)
      The production of bacteriocin is considered to be a probiotic trait of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). However, not all strains of LAB harbour bacteriocin genes, even within the same species. Moreover, the effects of bacteriocins on the host gut microbiota and on host physiological indicators are rarely studied. This study evaluated the effects of the bacteriocin-producing Lactobacillus acidophilus strain JCM1132 and its non-producing spontaneous mutant, L. acidophilus CCFM720, on the physiological statuses and gut microbiota of healthy mice. Mice that received the bacteriocin-producing strain JCM1132 exhibited reduced water and food intake. Furthermore, the administration of these strains induced significant changes in the compositional abundance of faecal microbiota at the phylum and genus levels, and some of these changes were more pronounced after one week of withdrawal. The effects of CCFM720 treatment on the gut microbiota seemed to favour the prevention of metabolic diseases to some extent. However, individuals that received JCM1132 treatment exhibited weaker inflammatory responses than those that received CCFM720 treatment. Our results indicate that treatment with bacteriocin-producing or non-producing strains can have different effects on the host. Accordingly, this trait should be considered in the applications of LAB.
    • Lactolisterin BU, a Novel Class II Broad-Spectrum Bacteriocin from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis bv. diacetylactis BGBU1-4

      Lozo, Jelena; Mirkovic, Nemanja; O'Connor, Paula M.; Malesevic, Milka; Miljkovic, Marija; Polovic, Natalija; Jovcic, Branko; Cotter, Paul D.; Kojic, Milan; Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia; et al. (American Society for Microbiology, 2017-10-17)
      Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis bv. diacetylactis BGBU1-4 produces a novel bacteriocin, lactolisterin BU, with strong antimicrobial activity against many species of Gram-positive bacteria, including important food spoilage and foodborne pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus spp., and streptococci. Lactolisterin BU was extracted from the cell surface of BGBU1-4 by 2-propanol and purified to homogeneity by C18 solid-phase extraction and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The molecular mass of the purified lactolisterin BU was 5,160.94 Da, and an internal fragment, AVSWAWQH, as determined by N-terminal sequencing, showed low-level similarity to existing antimicrobial peptides. Curing and transformation experiments revealed the presence of a corresponding bacteriocin operon on the smallest plasmid, pBU6 (6.2 kb), of strain BGBU1-4. Analysis of the bacteriocin operon revealed a leaderless bacteriocin of 43 amino acids that exhibited similarity to bacteriocin BHT-B (63%) from Streptococcus ratti, a bacteriocin with analogy to aureocin A.
    • Nisin in Combination with Cinnamaldehyde and EDTA to Control Growth of Escherichia coli Strains of Swine Origin

      Field, Des; Baghou, Inès; Rea, Mary; Gardiner, Gillian; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; 10/IN.1/B3027; SFI/12/RC/2273 (MDPI AG, 2017-12-12)
      Post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD) due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is an economically important disease in pig production worldwide. Although antibiotics have contributed significantly to mitigate the economic losses caused by PWD, there is major concern over the increased incidence of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria isolated from pigs. Consequently, suitable alternatives that are safe and effective are urgently required. Many naturally occurring compounds, including the antimicrobial peptide nisin and a number of plant essential oils, have been widely studied and are reported to be effective as antimicrobial agents against pathogenic microorganisms. Here, we evaluate the potential of nisin in combination with the essential oil cinnamaldehyde and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) to control the growth of E. coli strains of swine origin including two characterized as ETEC. The results reveal that the use of nisin (10 μM) with low concentrations of trans-cinnamaldehyde (125 μg/mL) and EDTA (0.25–2%) resulted in extended lag phases of growth compared to when either antimicrobial is used alone. Further analysis through kill curves revealed that an approximate 1-log reduction in E. coli cell counts was observed against the majority of targets tested following 3 h incubation. These results highlight the potential benefits of combining the natural antimicrobial nisin with trans-cinnamaldehyde and EDTA as a new approach for the inhibition of E. coli strains of swine origin.
    • Nisin in Combination with Cinnamaldehyde and EDTA to Control Growth of Escherichia coli Strains of Swine Origin

      Field, Des; Baghou, Inès; Rea, Mary; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; 10/IN.1/B3027 (MDPI AG, 2017-12-12)
      Post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD) due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is an economically important disease in pig production worldwide. Although antibiotics have contributed significantly to mitigate the economic losses caused by PWD, there is major concern over the increased incidence of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria isolated from pigs. Consequently, suitable alternatives that are safe and effective are urgently required. Many naturally occurring compounds, including the antimicrobial peptide nisin and a number of plant essential oils, have been widely studied and are reported to be effective as antimicrobial agents against pathogenic microorganisms. Here, we evaluate the potential of nisin in combination with the essential oil cinnamaldehyde and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) to control the growth of E. coli strains of swine origin including two characterized as ETEC. The results reveal that the use of nisin (10 μM) with low concentrations of trans-cinnamaldehyde (125 μg/mL) and EDTA (0.25–2%) resulted in extended lag phases of growth compared to when either antimicrobial is used alone. Further analysis through kill curves revealed that an approximate 1-log reduction in E. coli cell counts was observed against the majority of targets tested following 3 h incubation. These results highlight the potential benefits of combining the natural antimicrobial nisin with trans-cinnamaldehyde and EDTA as a new approach for the inhibition of E. coli strains of swine origin.
    • Production of multiple bacteriocins from a single locus by gastrointestinal strains of Lactobacillus salivarius

      O'Shea, Eileen F.; O'Connor, Paula M.; Raftis, Emma J.; O'Toole, Paul W.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (American Society for Microbiology, 07/10/2011)
      Bacteriocins produced by Lactobacillus salivarius isolates derived from gastrointestinal origin have previously demonstrated efficacy for in vivo protection against Listeria monocytogenes infection. In this study, comparative genomic analysis was employed to investigate the intraspecies diversity of seven L. salivarius isolates of human and porcine intestinal origin, based on the genome of the well characterised bacteriocin-producing strain L. salivarius UCC118. This revealed a highly conserved megaplasmid-encoded gene cluster in these strains involved in the regulation and secretion of two-component class IIb bacteriocins. However, considerable intraspecific variation was observed in the structural genes encoding the bacteriocin peptides. These ranged from close relatives of abp118 such as salivaricin P, which differs by 2 amino acids, to completely novel bacteriocins such as salivaricin T, which is characterized in this study. Salivaricin T inhibits closely related lactobacilli and bears little homology to previously characterized salivaricins. Interestingly, the two peptides responsible for salivaricin T activity, SalTα and SalTβ, share considerable identity with the component peptides of thermophilin 13, a bacteriocin produced by Streptococcus thermophilus. Furthermore, the salivaricin locus of strain DPC6488 also encodes an additional novel one-component class IId anti-listerial bacteriocin, salivaricin L. These findings suggest a high level of redundancy in the bacteriocins that can be produced by intestinal L. salivarius isolates using the same enzymatic production and export machinery. Such diversity may contribute to their ability to dominate and compete within the complex microbiota of the mammalian gut.
    • Subspecies diversity in bacteriocin production by intestinal Lactobacillus salivarius strains

      O'Shea, Eileen F.; O'Connor, Paula M.; Raftis, Emma J.; O'Toole, Paul W.; STANTON, CATHERINE; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Landes Bioscience, 2012-10)
      A recent comparative genomic hybridisation study in our laboratory revealed considerable plasticity within the bacteriocin locus of gastrointestinal strains of Lactobacillus salivarius. Most notably these analyses led to the identification of two novel unmodified bacteriocins salivaricin L and salivaricin T produced by the neonatal isolate L. salivarius DPC6488 with immunity, regulatory and export systems analogous to those of abp118, a two-component bacteriocin produced by the well characterized reference strain L. salivarius UCC118. In this addendum we discuss the intraspecific diversity of our seven bacteriocin-producing L. salivarius isolates on a genome-wide level, and more specifically, with respect to their salivaricin loci.
    • Synergistic Nisin-Polymyxin Combinations for the Control of Pseudomonas Biofilm Formation

      Field, Des; Seisling, Nynke; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; TIDA14/TIDA/2286; 10/IN.1/B3027; 11/PI/1137; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Frontiers, 26/10/2016)
      The emergence and dissemination of multi-drug resistant pathogens is a global concern. Moreover, even greater levels of resistance are conferred on bacteria when in the form of biofilms (i.e., complex, sessile communities of bacteria embedded in an organic polymer matrix). For decades, antimicrobial peptides have been hailed as a potential solution to the paucity of novel antibiotics, either as natural inhibitors that can be used alone or in formulations with synergistically acting antibiotics. Here, we evaluate the potential of the antimicrobial peptide nisin to increase the efficacy of the antibiotics polymyxin and colistin, with a particular focus on their application to prevent biofilm formation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The results reveal that the concentrations of polymyxins that are required to effectively inhibit biofilm formation can be dramatically reduced when combined with nisin, thereby enhancing efficacy, and ultimately, restoring sensitivity. Such combination therapy may yield added benefits by virtue of reducing polymyxin toxicity through the administration of significantly lower levels of polymyxin antibiotics.