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J Bacteriol. 1997 May; 179(9): 2845–2851.
PMCID: PMC179044

Three Bacillus cereus bacteriophage endolysins are unrelated but reveal high homology to cell wall hydrolases from different bacilli.


The ply genes encoding the endolysin proteins from Bacillus cereus phages Bastille, TP21, and 12826 were identified, cloned, and sequenced. The endolysins could be overproduced in Escherichia coli (up to 20% of total cellular protein), and the recombinant proteins were purified by a two-step chromatographical procedure. All three enzymes induced rapid and specific lysis of viable cells of several Bacillus species, with highest activity on B. cereus and B. thuringiensis. Ply12 and Ply21 were experimentally shown to be N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidases (EC No apparent holin genes were found adjacent to the ply genes. However, Ply21 may be endowed with a signal peptide which could play a role in timing of cell lysis by the cytoplasmic phage endolysin. The individual lytic enzymes (PlyBa, 41.1 kDa; Ply21, 29.5 kDa, Ply12, 27.7 kDa) show remarkable heterogeneity, i.e., their amino acid sequences reveal only little homology. The N-terminal part of Ply21 was found to be almost identical to the catalytic domains of a Bacillus sp. cell wall hydrolase (CwlSP) and an autolysin of B. subtilis (CwlA). The C terminus of PlyBa contains a 77-amino-acid sequence repeat which is also homologous to the binding domain of CwlSP. Ply12 shows homology to the major autolysins from B. subtilis and E. coli. Comparison with database sequences indicated a modular organization of the phage lysis proteins where the enzymatic activity is located in the N-terminal region and the C-termini are responsible for specific recognition and binding of Bacillus peptidoglycan. We speculate that the close relationship of the phage enzymes and cell wall autolysins is based upon horizontal gene transfer among different Bacillus phages and their hosts.

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Selected References

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