Daniel C Nelson

The Rockefeller University, New York City, New York, United States

Are you Daniel C Nelson?

Claim your profile

Publications (16)57.92 Total impact

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Applied microbiology and biotechnology. 07/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bacteriophage tailspike proteins act as primary receptors, often possessing endoglycosidase activity toward bacterial lipopolysaccharides or other exopolysaccharides, which enable phage absorption and subsequent DNA injection into the host. Phage CBA120, a contractile long-tailed Viunalikevirus phage infects the virulent Escherichia coli O157:H7. This phage encodes four putative tailspike proteins exhibiting little amino acid sequence identity, whose biological roles and substrate specificities are unknown. Here we focus on the first tailspike, TSP1, encoded by the orf210 gene. We have discovered that TSP1 is resistant to protease degradation, exhibits high thermal stability, but does not cleave the O157 antigen. An immune-dot blot has shown that TSP1 binds strongly to non-O157:H7 E. coli cells and more weakly to K. pneumoniae cells, but exhibits little binding to E. coli O157:H7 strains. To facilitate structure-function studies, we have determined the crystal structure of TSP1 to a resolution limit of 1.8 Å. Similar to other tailspikes proteins, TSP1 assembles into elongated homotrimers. The receptor binding region of each subunit adopts a right-handed parallel β helix, reminiscent yet not identical to several known tailspike structures. The structure of the N-terminal domain that binds to the virion particle has not been seen previously. Potential endoglycosidase catalytic sites at the three subunit interfaces contain two adjacent glutamic acids, unlike any catalytic machinery observed in other tailspikes. To identify potential sugar binding sites, the crystal structures of TSP1 in complexes with glucose, α-maltose, or α-lactose were determined. These structures revealed that each sugar binds in a different location and none of the environments appears consistent with an endoglycosidase catalytic site. Such sites may serve to bind sugar units of a yet to be identified bacterial exopolysaccharide.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e93156. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bacillus cereus sensu lato organisms are an ecologically diverse group that includes etiologic agents of food poisoning, periodontal disease, and anthrax. The recently identified Bcp1 bacteriophage infects B. cereus sensu lato and is being developed as a therapeutic decontamination agent and diagnostic countermeasure. We announce the complete genome sequence of Bcp1.
    Genome announcements. 01/2014; 2(3).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For the last two decades, CASP has assessed the state of the art in techniques for protein structure prediction and identified areas which required further development. CASP would not have been possible without the prediction targets provided by the experimental structural biology community. In the latest experiment, CASP10, over 100 structures were suggested as prediction targets, some of which appeared to be extraordinarily difficult for modeling. In this paper, authors of some of the most challenging targets discuss which specific scientific question motivated the experimental structure determination of the target protein, which structural features were especially interesting from a structural or functional perspective, and to what extent these features were correctly reproduced in the predictions submitted to CASP10. Specifically, the following targets will be presented: the acid-gated urea channel, a difficult to predict trans-membrane protein from the important human pathogen Helicobacter pylori; the structure of human interleukin IL-34, a recently discovered helical cytokine; the structure of a functionally uncharacterized enzyme OrfY from Thermoproteus tenax formed by a gene duplication and a novel fold; an ORFan domain of mimivirus sulfhydryl oxidase R596; the fibre protein gp17 from bacteriophage T7; the Bacteriophage CBA-120 tailspike protein; a virus coat protein from metagenomic samples of the marine environment; and finally an unprecedented class of structure prediction targets based on engineered disulfide-rich small proteins. © Proteins 2013;. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 12/2013; · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A streptococcus (GAS), has a propensity to colonize human tissues and form biofilms. Significantly, these biofilms are a contributing mechanism of antibiotic treatment failure in streptococcal disease. In this study, we evaluate a streptococcal-specific bacteriophage-encoded endolysin (PlyC), which is known to lyse planktonic streptococci, on both static and dynamic streptococcal biofilms. METHODS: PlyC was benchmarked against antibiotics for MIC, MBC and minimum biofilm eradication concentration (MBEC). A biomass eradication assay based on crystal violet staining of the biofilm matrix was also used to quantify the anti-biofilm properties of PlyC. Finally, conventional fluorescence microscopy and laser scanning confocal microscopy were used to study the effects of PlyC on static and dynamic biofilms of GAS. RESULTS: PlyC and antibiotics had similar MIC (range 0.02-0.08 mg/L) and MBC (range 0.02-1.25 mg/L) values on planktonic GAS. However, when GAS grew in biofilms, the MBEC values for antibiotics rose to clinically resistant values (≥400 mg/L) whereas PlyC had MBEC values two orders of magnitude lower by mass and four orders of magnitude lower by molarity than the conventional antibiotics. Laser scanning confocal microscopy revealed that PlyC destroys the biofilm as it diffuses through the matrix in a time-dependent fashion. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that while streptococcal cells within a biofilm rapidly become refractory to traditional antibiotics, the biofilm matrix is readily destroyed by the lytic actions of PlyC.
    Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 04/2013; · 5.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gram-positive bacteria can transport molecules necessary for their survival through holes in their cell wall. The holes in cell walls need to be large enough to let critical nutrients pass through. However, the cell wall must also function to prevent the bacteria's membrane from protruding through a large hole into the environment and lysing the cell. As such, we hypothesize that there exists a range of cell wall hole sizes that allow for molecule transport but prevent membrane protrusion. Here, we develop and analyse a biophysical theory of the response of a Gram-positive cell's membrane to the formation of a hole in the cell wall. We predict a critical hole size in the range of 15-24 nm beyond which lysis occurs. To test our theory, we measured hole sizes in Streptococcus pyogenes cells undergoing enzymatic lysis via transmission electron microscopy. The measured hole sizes are in strong agreement with our theoretical prediction. Together, the theory and experiments provide a means to quantify the mechanisms of death of Gram-positive cells via enzymatically mediated lysis and provides insights into the range of cell wall hole sizes compatible with bacterial homeostasis.
    Journal of The Royal Society Interface 01/2013; 10(80):20120892. · 4.91 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In bacterial biofilms, high molecular weight, secreted exopolysaccharides can serve as a scaffold to which additional carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids adhere, forming the matrix of the developing biofilm. Here we report methods to extract and purify high molecular weight (>15 kDa) exopolysaccharides from biofilms of eight human pathogens, including species of Staphylcococcus, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and a toxigenic strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7. Glycosyl composition analysis indicated a high total mannose content across all strains with P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii exopolysaccharides comprised of 80-90% mannose, K. pneumoniae and S. epidermidis strains containing 40-50% mannose, and E. coli with ∼10% mannose. Galactose and glucose were also present in all eight strains, usually as the second and third most abundant carbohydrates. N-acetyl-glucosamine and galacturonic acid were found in 6 of 8 strains, while arabinose, fucose, rhamnose, and xylose were found in 5 of 8 strains. For linkage analysis, 33 distinct residue-linkage combinations were detected with the most abundant being mannose-linked moieties, in line with the composition analysis. The exopolysaccharides of two P. aeruginosa strains analyzed were consistent with the Psl carbohydrate, but not Pel or alginate. The S. epidermidis strain had a composition rich in mannose and glucose, which is consistent with the previously described slime associated antigen (SAA) and the extracellular slime substance (ESS), respectively, but no polysaccharide intracellular adhesion (PIA) was detected. The high molecular weight exopolysaccharides from E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and A. baumannii appear to be novel, based on composition and/or ratio analysis of carbohydrates.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e67950. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bacteriophages deploy lysins that degrade the bacterial cell wall and facilitate virus egress from the host. When applied exogenously, these enzymes destroy susceptible microbes and, accordingly, have potential as therapeutic agents. The most potent lysin identified to date is PlyC, an enzyme assembled from two components (PlyCA and PlyCB) that is specific for streptococcal species. Here the structure of the PlyC holoenzyme reveals that a single PlyCA moiety is tethered to a ring-shaped assembly of eight PlyCB molecules. Structure-guided mutagenesis reveals that the bacterial cell wall binding is achieved through a cleft on PlyCB. Unexpectedly, our structural data reveal that PlyCA contains a glycoside hydrolase domain in addition to the previously recognized cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolases/peptidases catalytic domain. The presence of eight cell wall-binding domains together with two catalytic domains may explain the extraordinary potency of the PlyC holoenyzme toward target bacteria.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 109(31):12752-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Identification of bacteria: A methoxyimino cephalosporin derivative containing a pair of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) fluorophores was synthesized. This probe displays selective cleavage toward different types of β-lactamases, thereby providing a rapid assay to distinguish bacterial cells that are either sensitive or resistant to broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics.
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 02/2012; 51(8):1865-8. · 11.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Peptidoglycan (PG) is the major structural component of the bacterial cell wall. Bacteria have autolytic PG hydrolases that allow the cell to grow and divide. A well-studied group of PG hydrolase enzymes are the bacteriophage endolysins. Endolysins are PG-degrading proteins that allow the phage to escape from the bacterial cell during the phage lytic cycle. The endolysins, when purified and exposed to PG externally, can cause "lysis from without." Numerous publications have described how this phenomenon can be used therapeutically as an effective antimicrobial against certain pathogens. Endolysins have a characteristic modular structure, often with multiple lytic and/or cell wall-binding domains (CBDs). They degrade the PG with glycosidase, amidase, endopeptidase, or lytic transglycosylase activities and have been shown to be synergistic with fellow PG hydrolases or a range of other antimicrobials. Due to the coevolution of phage and host, it is thought they are much less likely to invoke resistance. Endolysin engineering has opened a range of new applications for these proteins from food safety to environmental decontamination to more effective antimicrobials that are believed refractory to resistance development. To put phage endolysin work in a broader context, this chapter includes relevant studies of other well-characterized PG hydrolase antimicrobials.
    Advances in Virus Research 01/2012; 83:299-365. · 2.84 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Ryan D Heselpoth, Daniel C Nelson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Directed evolution is defined as a method to harness natural selection in order to engineer proteins to acquire particular properties that are not associated with the protein in nature. Literature has provided numerous examples regarding the implementation of directed evolution to successfully alter molecular specificity and catalysis(1). The primary advantage of utilizing directed evolution instead of more rational-based approaches for molecular engineering relates to the volume and diversity of variants that can be screened(2). One possible application of directed evolution involves improving structural stability of bacteriolytic enzymes, such as endolysins. Bacteriophage encode and express endolysins to hydrolyze a critical covalent bond in the peptidoglycan (i.e. cell wall) of bacteria, resulting in host cell lysis and liberation of progeny virions. Notably, these enzymes possess the ability to extrinsically induce lysis to susceptible bacteria in the absence of phage and furthermore have been validated both in vitro and in vivo for their therapeutic potential(3-5). The subject of our directed evolution study involves the PlyC endolysin, which is composed of PlyCA and PlyCB subunits(6). When purified and added extrinsically, the PlyC holoenzyme lyses group A streptococci (GAS) as well as other streptococcal groups in a matter of seconds and furthermore has been validated in vivo against GAS(7). Significantly, monitoring residual enzyme kinetics after elevated temperature incubation provides distinct evidence that PlyC loses lytic activity abruptly at 45 °C, suggesting a short therapeutic shelf life, which may limit additional development of this enzyme. Further studies reveal the lack of thermal stability is only observed for the PlyCA subunit, whereas the PlyCB subunit is stable up to ~90 °C (unpublished observation). In addition to PlyC, there are several examples in literature that describe the thermolabile nature of endolysins. For example, the Staphylococcus aureus endolysin LysK and Streptococcus pneumoniae endolysins Cpl-1 and Pal lose activity spontaneously at 42 °C, 43.5 °C and 50.2 °C, respectively(8-10). According to the Arrhenius equation, which relates the rate of a chemical reaction to the temperature present in the particular system, an increase in thermostability will correlate with an increase in shelf life expectancy(11). Toward this end, directed evolution has been shown to be a useful tool for altering the thermal activity of various molecules in nature, but never has this particular technology been exploited successfully for the study of bacteriolytic enzymes. Likewise, successful accounts of progressing the structural stability of this particular class of antimicrobials altogether are nonexistent. In this video, we employ a novel methodology that uses an error-prone DNA polymerase followed by an optimized screening process using a 96 well microtiter plate format to identify mutations to the PlyCA subunit of the PlyC streptococcal endolysin that correlate to an increase in enzyme kinetic stability (Figure 1). Results after just one round of random mutagenesis suggest the methodology is generating PlyC variants that retain more than twice the residual activity when compared to wild-type (WT) PlyC after elevated temperature treatment.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 01/2012;
  • Source
    Daniel C Nelson, Julia Garbe, Mattias Collin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes) is an exclusively human pathogen that causes a wide spectrum of diseases ranging from pharyngitis, to impetigo, to toxic shock, to necrotizing fasciitis. The diversity of these disease states necessitates that S. pyogenes possess the ability to modulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses. SpeB, a cysteine proteinase, is the predominant secreted protein from S. pyogenes. Because of its relatively indiscriminant specificity, this enzyme has been shown to degrade the extracellular matrix, cytokines, chemokines, complement components, immunoglobulins, and serum protease inhibitors, to name but a few of the known substrates. Additionally, SpeB regulates other streptococcal proteins by degrading them or releasing them from the bacterial surface. Despite the wealth of literature on putative SpeB functions, there remains much controversy about this enzyme because many of reported activities would produce contradictory physiological results. Here we review all known host and bacterial protein substrates for SpeB, their cleavage sites, and discuss the role of this enzyme in streptococcal pathogenesis based on the current literature.
    Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 392(12):1077-88. · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Daniel C Nelson, Julia Garbe, Mattias Collin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes) is an exclusively human pathogen that causes a wide spectrum of diseases ranging from pharyngitis, to impetigo, to toxic shock, to necrotizing fasciitis. The diversity of these disease states necessitates that S. pyogenes possess the ability to modulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses. SpeB, a cysteine proteinase, is the predominant secreted protein from S. pyogenes. Due to its relatively indiscriminant specificity, this enzyme has been shown to degrade the extracellular matrix, cytokines, chemokines, complement components, immunoglobulins, and serum protease inhibitors, to name but a few of the known substrates. Additionally, SpeB regulates other streptococcal proteins by degrading them or releasing them from the bacterial surface. Despite the wealth of literature on putative SpeB functions, there remains much controversy about this enzyme because many of reported activities would produce contradictory physiological results. Here we review all known host and bacterial protein substrates for SpeB, their cleavage sites, and discuss the role of this enzyme in streptococcal pathogenesis based on the current literature.
    Biological Chemistry 09/2011; · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The number of microbial pathogens resistant to antibiotics continues to increase even as the rate of discovery and approval of new antibiotic therapeutics steadily decreases. Many researchers have begun to investigate the therapeutic potential of naturally occurring lytic enzymes as an alternative to traditional antibiotics. However, direct characterization of lytic enzymes using techniques based on synthetic substrates is often difficult because lytic enzymes bind to the complex superstructure of intact cell walls. Here we present a new standard for the analysis of lytic enzymes based on turbidity assays which allow us to probe the dynamics of lysis without preparing a synthetic substrate. The challenge in the analysis of these assays is to infer the microscopic details of lysis from macroscopic turbidity data. We propose a model of enzymatic lysis that integrates the chemistry responsible for bond cleavage with the physical mechanisms leading to cell wall failure. We then present a solution to an inverse problem in which we estimate reaction rate constants and the heterogeneous susceptibility to lysis among target cells. We validate our model given simulated and experimental turbidity assays. The ability to estimate reaction rate constants for lytic enzymes will facilitate their biochemical characterization and development as antimicrobial therapeutics.
    Physical Biology 01/2010; 7(4):046002. · 2.62 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lysins are phage-encoded, peptidoglycan (cell wall) hydrolases that accumulate in the bacterial cytoplasm during a lytic infection cycle. Late during infection, the lysins undergo holin-mediated translocation across the inner membrane into the peptidoglycan matrix where they cleave cell wall covalent bonds required for wall stability and allow bacterial lysis and progeny phage release. This potent hydrolytic activity is now the foundation of a powerful genetic-based screening process for the identification and analysis of phage lysin proteins. Here, we describe a method for identifying a lysin, PlyG, from a bacteriophage that specifically infects the Gram-positive organism Bacillus anthracis; however, the techniques described can be adapted to clone, express, and analyze lysins from any phage infecting Gram-positive bacteria or possibly even Gram-negative bacteria.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 02/2009; 502:307-19. · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Streptococcus equi is the causative agent of the purulent infection equine strangles. This disease is transmitted through shedding of live bacteria from nasal secretions and abscess drainage or by contact with surfaces contaminated by the bacteria. Disinfectants are effective against S. equi, but inactivation by environmental factors, damage to equipment, and toxicity are of great concern. Bacteriophage-encoded lysins (cell wall hydrolases) have been investigated as therapeutic agents due to their ability to lyse susceptible gram-positive organisms. Here, we investigate the use of one lysin, PlyC, as a narrow-spectrum disinfectant against S. equi. This enzyme was active against >20 clinical isolates of S. equi, including both S. equi subsp. equi and S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus. Significantly, PlyC was 1,000 times more active on a per weight basis than Virkon-S, a common disinfecting agent, with 1 microg of enzyme able to sterilize a 10(8) CFU/ml culture of S. equi in 30 min. PlyC was subjected to a standard battery of tests including the Use Dilution Method for Testing Disinfectants and the Germicidal Spray Products Test. Results indicate that aerosolized PlyC can eradicate or significantly reduce the S. equi load on a variety of materials found on common stable and horse-related equipment. Additionally, PlyC was shown to retain full activity under conditions that mimic a horse stable, i.e., in the presence of nonionic detergents, hard water, or organic materials. We propose PlyC as the first protein-based, narrow-spectrum disinfectant against S. equi, which may augment or supplement the use of broad-spectrum disinfectants in barns and stables where equine strangles is prevalent.
    Applied and environmental microbiology 01/2009; 75(5):1388-94. · 3.69 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

76 Citations
57.92 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2009–2014
    • The Rockefeller University
      • Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2011–2013
    • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville
      Maryland, United States
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010–2013
    • Loyola University Maryland
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2012
    • Monash University (Australia)
      • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia