Novel Phage-Derived Depolymerase with Activity against Proteus mirabilis Biofilms

Cormac J. Rice, Stephen A. Kelly, Seamus C. O’Brien, Erinn M. Melaugh, Jan C. B. Ganacias, Zheng Hua Chai, Brendan F. Gilmore, Timofey Skvortsov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The adherence of Proteus mirabilis to the surface of urinary catheters leads to colonization and eventual blockage of the catheter lumen by unique crystalline biofilms produced by these opportunistic pathogens, making P. mirabilis one of the leading causes of catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The Proteus biofilms reduce efficiency of antibiotic-based treatment, which in turn increases the risk of antibiotic resistance development. Bacteriophages and their enzymes have recently become investigated as alternative treatment options. In this study, a novel Proteus bacteriophage (vB_PmiS_PM-CJR) was isolated from an environmental sample and fully characterized. The phage displayed depolymerase activity and the subsequent genome analysis revealed the presence of a pectate lyase domain in its tail spike protein. The protein was heterologously expressed and purified; the ability of the purified tail spike to degrade Proteus biofilms was tested. We showed that the application of the tail spike protein was able to reduce the adherence of bacterial biofilm to plastic pegs in a MBEC (minimum biofilm eradication concentration) assay and improve the survival of Galleria mellonella larvae infected with Proteus mirabilis. Our study is the first to successfully isolate and characterize a biofilm depolymerase from a Proteus phage, demonstrating the potential of this group of enzymes in treatment of Proteus infections.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2172
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • Proteus
  • bacteriophage
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • depolymerases
  • antibiotic resistance
  • pectate lyase
  • biofilms


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