Endolysins (or lysins) are highly evolved enzymes produced by bacteriophage (phage for short) to digest the bacterial cell wall for phage progeny release. In Gram-positive bacteria, small quantities of purified recombinant lysin added externally results in immediate lysis causing log-fold death of the target bacterium. Lysins have been used successfully in a variety of animal models to control pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on mucosal surfaces and infected tissues. Their specificity for the pathogen without disturbing the normal flora, the low chance of bacterial resistance, and their ability to kill colonizing pathogens on mucosal surfaces, a capacity previously unavailable, make them ideal anti-infectives in an age of mounting resistance. Here we review the current literature showing the effectiveness of these enzymes in controlling a variety of infections.
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