Bacteriophage lytic enzymes: novel anti-infectives

Trends Microbiol. 2005 Oct;13(10):491-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2005.08.007.


Bacteriophage lytic enzymes, or lysins, are highly evolved molecules produced by bacterial viruses (bacteriophage) to digest the bacterial cell wall for bacteriophage progeny release. Small quantities of purified recombinant lysin added to gram-positive bacteria causes immediate lysis resulting in log-fold death of the target bacterium. Lysins have now been used successfully in animal models to control pathogenic antibiotic resistant bacteria found on mucosal surfaces and in blood. The advantages over antibiotics are their specificity for the pathogen without disturbing the normal flora, the low chance of bacterial resistance to lysins and their ability to kill colonizing pathogens on mucosal surfaces, capabilities that were previously unavailable. Thus, lysins could be an effective anti-infective in an age of mounting antibiotic resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / chemistry
  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Amidohydrolases / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteriophages / enzymology*
  • Endopeptidases / chemistry
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Endopeptidases / pharmacology*
  • Muramidase / chemistry
  • Muramidase / metabolism
  • Muramidase / pharmacology*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Muramidase
  • Endopeptidases
  • Amidohydrolases
  • amidase