ABSTRACT: Bacterial pathogens are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. As an alternative therapeutic strategy, phage therapy reagents containing purified viral lysins have been developed against gram-positive organisms but not against gram-negative organisms due to the inability of these types of drugs to cross the bacterial outer membrane. We solved the crystal structures of a Yersinia pestis outer membrane transporter called FyuA and a bacterial toxin called pesticin that targets this transporter. FyuA is a β-barrel membrane protein belonging to the family of TonB dependent transporters, whereas pesticin is a soluble protein with two domains, one that binds to FyuA and another that is structurally similar to phage T4 lysozyme. The structure of pesticin allowed us to design a phage therapy reagent comprised of the FyuA binding domain of pesticin fused to the N-terminus of T4 lysozyme. This hybrid toxin kills specific Yersinia and pathogenic E. coli strains and, importantly, can evade the pesticin immunity protein (Pim) giving it a distinct advantage over pesticin. Furthermore, because FyuA is required for virulence and is more common in pathogenic bacteria, the hybrid toxin also has the advantage of targeting primarily disease-causing bacteria rather than indiscriminately eliminating natural gut flora.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2012; 109(25):9857-62. · 9.68 Impact Factor