Geldart, K.G., et al. Engineered E. coli Nissle 1917 for the Reduction of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus in the Intestinal Tract . Bioengineering & Translational Medicine. 3(3), 197-208. 8/9/2018.
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) poses a serious threat in hospitals where they densely colonize the intestinal tracts of patients. In vulnerable hosts, these pathogens may translocate to the bloodstream and become lethal. The ability to selectively reduce VRE in the intestinal tracts of patients could potentially prevent many of these translocation events and reduce the spread of the pathogen. Herein, we have engineered Escherichia. coli Nissle 1917 to produce and secrete three antimicrobial peptides, Enterocin A, Enterocin B, and Hiracin JM79, to specifically target and kill Enterococcus. These peptides exhibited potent activity against both Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis, the two most prominent species responsible for VRE infections. We first discuss the optimization of the system used to express and secrete the peptides. We then show that by simultaneously expressing these peptides, both E. faecium and E. faecalis were drastically inhibited. We then demonstrate a suppression of the development of resistance when supernatant from the E. coli producer strains was used to treat E. faecium. Finally, we tested the efficacy of the probiotic in a VRE colonization model in mice. These studies showed that administration of the engineered probiotic significantly reduced the levels of both E. faecium and E. faecalis in the feces of male Balb/cJ mice.