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      Learning from Bacteriophages - Advantages and Limitations of Phage and Phage-Encoded Protein Applications

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          The emergence of bacteria resistance to most of the currently available antibiotics has become a critical therapeutic problem. The bacteria causing both hospital and community-acquired infections are most often multidrug resistant. In view of the alarming level of antibiotic resistance between bacterial species and difficulties with treatment, alternative or supportive antibacterial cure has to be developed. The presented review focuses on the major characteristics of bacteriophages and phage-encoded proteins affecting their usefulness as antimicrobial agents. We discuss several issues such as mode of action, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, resistance and manufacturing aspects of bacteriophages and phage-encoded proteins application.

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          Dispersing biofilms with engineered enzymatic bacteriophage.

          Synthetic biology involves the engineering of biological organisms by using modular and generalizable designs with the ultimate goal of developing useful solutions to real-world problems. One such problem involves bacterial biofilms, which are crucial in the pathogenesis of many clinically important infections and are difficult to eradicate because they exhibit resistance to antimicrobial treatments and removal by host immune systems. To address this issue, we engineered bacteriophage to express a biofilm-degrading enzyme during infection to simultaneously attack the bacterial cells in the biofilm and the biofilm matrix, which is composed of extracellular polymeric substances. We show that the efficacy of biofilm removal by this two-pronged enzymatic bacteriophage strategy is significantly greater than that of nonenzymatic bacteriophage treatment. Our engineered enzymatic phage substantially reduced bacterial biofilm cell counts by approximately 4.5 orders of magnitude ( approximately 99.997% removal), which was about two orders of magnitude better than that of nonenzymatic phage. This work demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of using engineered enzymatic bacteriophage to reduce bacterial biofilms and the applicability of synthetic biology to an important medical and industrial problem.
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            Holins: the protein clocks of bacteriophage infections.

            Two proteins, an endolysin and a holin, are essential for host lysis by bacteriophage. Endolysin is the term for muralytic enzymes that degrade the cell wall; endolysins accumulate in the cytosol fully folded during the vegetative cycle. Holins are small membrane proteins that accumulate in the membrane until, at a specific time that is "programmed" into the holin gene, the membrane suddenly becomes permeabilized to the fully folded endolysin. Destruction of the murein and bursting of the cell are immediate sequelae. Holins control the length of the infective cycle for lytic phages and so are subject to intense evolutionary pressure to achieve lysis at an optimal time. Holins are regulated by protein inhibitors of several different kinds. Holins constitute one of the most diverse functional groups, with >100 known or putative holin sequences, which form >30 ortholog groups.
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              5500 Phages examined in the electron microscope.

               H Ackermann (2007)
              "Phages" include viruses of eubacteria and archaea. At least 5568 phages have been examined in the electron microscope since the introduction of negative staining in 1959. Most virions (96%) are tailed. Only 208 phages (3.7%) are polyhedral, filamentous, or pleomorphic. Phages belong to one order, 17 families, and three "floating" groups. Phages are found in 11 eubacterial and archaeal phyla and infect 154 host genera, mostly of the phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria. Of the tailed phages, 61% have long, noncontractile tails and belong to the family Siphoviridae. Convergent evolution is visible in the morphology of certain phage groups.

                Author and article information

                Curr Protein Pept Sci
                Curr. Protein Pept. Sci
                Current Protein & Peptide Science
                Bentham Science Publishers
                December 2012
                December 2012
                : 13
                : 8
                : 699-722
                [1 ]Institute of Genetics and Microbiology, University of Wrocław, Przybyszewskiego 63/77, 51-148 Wrocław, Poland
                [2 ]Laboratory of Gene Technology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 21, box 2462, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium
                Author notes
                [* ]Address correspondence to this author at the Institute of Genetics and Microbiology, University of Wroclaw, Przybyszewskiego 63/77, 51-148 Wroclaw, Poland; Tel:/Fax: +48 71 325 21 51; Email: zuzanna.drulis-kawa@ 123456microb.uni.wroc.pl
                © 2012 Bentham Science Publishers

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/), which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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