Bacteriophage lytic enzymes (i.e., phage lysins) are a trending alternative for general antibiotics to combat growing antimicrobial resistance. Gram-positive Bacillus cereus causes one of the most severe forms of intraocular infection, often resulting in complete vision loss. It is an inherently β-lactamase-resistant organism that is highly inflammogenic in the eye, and antibiotics are not often beneficial as the sole therapeutic option for these blinding infections. The use of phage lysins as a treatment for B. cereus ocular infection has never been tested or reported. In this study, the phage lysin PlyB was tested in vitro, demonstrating rapid killing of vegetative B. cereus but not its spores. PlyB was also highly group specific and effectively killed the bacteria in various bacterial growth conditions, including ex vivo rabbit vitreous (Vit). Furthermore, PlyB demonstrated no cytotoxic or hemolytic activity toward human retinal cells or erythrocytes and did not trigger innate activation. In in vivo therapeutic experiments, PlyB was effective in killing B. cereus when administered intravitreally in an experimental endophthalmitis model and topically in an experimental keratitis model. In both models of ocular infection, the effective bactericidal property of PlyB prevented pathological damage to ocular tissues. Thus, PlyB was found to be safe and effective in killing B. cereus in the eye, greatly improving an otherwise devastating outcome. Overall, this study demonstrates that PlyB is a promising therapeutic option for B. cereus eye infections.IMPORTANCEEye infections from antibiotic-resistant Bacillus cereus are devastating and can result in blindness with few available treatment options. Bacteriophage lysins are an alternative to conventional antibiotics with the potential to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This study demonstrates that a lysin called PlyB can effectively kill B. cereus in two models of B. cereus eye infections, thus treating and preventing the blinding effects of these infections.
Keywords: Bacillus; bacteriophage lysin; endophthalmitis; keratitis; ocular infection.