Biochemical and biophysical characterization of PlyGRCS, a bacteriophage endolysin active against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
The increasing rate of resistance of pathogenic bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, to classical antibiotics has driven research toward identification of other means to fight infectious disease. One particularly viable option is the use of bacteriophage-encoded peptidoglycan hydrolases, called endolysins or enzybiotics. These enzymes lyse the bacterial cell wall upon direct contact, are not inhibited by traditional antibiotic resistance mechanisms, and have already shown great promise in the areas of food safety, human health, and veterinary science. We have identified and characterized an endolysin, PlyGRCS, which displays dose-dependent antimicrobial activity against both planktonic and biofilm S. aureus, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). The spectrum of lytic activity for this enzyme includes all S. aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis strains tested, but not other Gram-positive pathogens. The contributions of the PlyGRCS putative catalytic and cell wall binding domains were investigated through deletion analysis. The cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolase/peptidase (CHAP) catalytic domain displayed activity by itself, though reduced, indicating the necessity of the binding domain for full activity. In contrast, the SH3_5 binding domain lacked activity but was shown to interact directly with the staphylococcal cell wall via fluorescent microscopy. Site-directed mutagenesis studies determined that the active site residues in the CHAP catalytic domain were C29 and H92, and its catalytic functionality required calcium as a co-factor. Finally, biochemical assays coupled with mass spectrometry analysis determined that PlyGRCS displays both N-acetylmuramoyl-l-alanine amidase and d-alanyl-glycyl endopeptidase hydrolytic activities despite possessing only a single catalytic domain. These results indicate that PlyGRCS has the potential to become a revolutionary therapeutic option to combat bacterial infections.