Front Microbiol. 2021 Sep 14;12:723834. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.723834. eCollection 2021.
Staphylococcus aureus causes various infections in humans and animals, the skin being the principal reservoir of this pathogen. The widespread occurrence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) limits the elimination and treatment of this pathogen. Phage lytic proteins have been proven as efficient antimicrobials against S. aureus. Here, a set of 12 engineered proteins based on endolysins were conceptualized to select the most optimal following a stepwise funnel approach assessing parameters including turbidity reduction, minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), time-kill curves, and antibiofilm assays, as well as testing their stability in a broad range of storage conditions (pH, temperature, and ionic strength). The engineered phage lysins LysRODIΔAmi and ClyRODI-H5 showed the highest specific lytic activity (5 to 50 times higher than the rest), exhibited a shelf-life up to 6 months and remained stable at temperatures up to 50°C and in a pH range from 3 to 9. LysRODIΔAmi showed the lower MIC values against all staphylococcal strains tested. Both proteins were able to kill 6 log units of the strain S. aureus Sa9 within 5 min and could remove preformed biofilms (76 and 65%, respectively). Moreover, LysRODIΔAmi could prevent biofilm formation at low protein concentrations (0.15-0.6 μM). Due to its enhanced antibiofilm properties, LysRODIΔAmi was selected to effectively remove S. aureus contamination in both intact and disrupted keratinocyte monolayers. Notably, this protein did not demonstrate any toxicity toward human keratinocytes, even at high concentrations (22.1 μM). Finally, a pig skin ex vivo model was used to evaluate treatment of artificially contaminated pig skin using LysRODIΔAmi (16.5 μg/cm2). Following an early reduction of S. aureus, a second dose of protein completely eradicated S. aureus. Overall, our results suggest that LysRODIΔAmi is a suitable candidate as antimicrobial agent to prevent and treat staphylococcal skin infections.