Modern large-scale agricultural practices that incorporate high density farming with subtherapeutic antibiotic dosing are considered a major contributor to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections of humans with species of Salmonella being a leading agriculture-based bacterial infection. Microcin J25, a potent and highly stable antimicrobial peptide active against Enterobacteriaceae, is a candidate antimicrobial against multiple Salmonella species. Emerging evidence supports the hypothesis that the composition of the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract prevents a variety of diseases by preventing infectious agents from proliferating. Reducing clearance of off-target bacteria may decrease susceptibility to secondary infection. Of the Enterobacteriaceae susceptible to microcin J25, Escherichia coli are the most abundant within the human gut. To explore the modulation of specificity, a collection of 207 mutants encompassing 12 positions in both the ring and loop of microcin J25 was built and tested for activity against Salmonella and E. coli strains. As has been found previously, mutational tolerance of ring residues was lower than loop residues, with 22% and 51% of mutations, respectively, retaining activity toward at least one target within the target organism test panel. The multitarget screening elucidated increased mutational tolerance at position G2, G3, and G14 than previously identified in panels composed of single targets. Multiple mutations conferred differential response between the different targets. Examination of specificity differences between mutants found that 30% showed significant improvements to specificity toward any of the targets. Generation and testing of a combinatorial library designed from the point-mutant study revealed that microcin J25I13T reduces off-target activity toward commensal human-derived E. coli isolates by 81% relative to Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis. These in vitro specificity improvements are likely to improve in vivo treatment efficacy by reducing clearance of commensal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of hosts.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
National Institutes of Health, Grant/Award Numbers: GM111358, GM121777, T32GM008347; National Science Foundation, Grant/Award Number: CBET1412283
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM121777 and GM111358) and a grant from the National Science Foundation (CBET1412283). S.C. Ritter was also supported by a Predoctoral National Institutes of Health Traineeship (T32GM008347).
- antimicrobial peptide (AMPs)
- combinatorial library
- pathogenic Salmonella
- protein engineering