Bacteriocins are a diverse family of protein molecules produced by many bacterial species, that exhibit antibacterial activity. Bacteria produce these bacteriocins to eliminate competition from other closely related bacteria. Bacteriocins are naturally occurring antibacterial proteins that can be developed as potent antibiotics.
Bacteriocins from Gram negative bacteria are broadly classified into 3 types based on their size as:
Colicin-Like Bacteriocins (CLB) of 25 – 80 kDa size
Tailocins are high molecular size bacteriocins that resemble the tail structures of bacteriophages
Bacteriocins offer several advantages over antibiotics making them attractive starting points for developing anti-bacterial agents:
Their specificity offers a targeted approach and kills only the target pathogen, without damaging the commensal human microbiota or microbiome.
The Bacteriocins have a unique mode of action and hence there is no primed resistance in the bacterial community.
Bacteriocins enter the bacterial cell through specific receptors which are absent on eukaryotic cells and hence are very selective agents.
The colicin like bacteriocins (CLB) have modular domain structure that can be engineered to generate new bacteriocins with enhanced functionalities like activity/stability.
For generations the commensal bacteria in human body has been employing the bacteriocins to ward off invasions by pathogenic bacteria, hence natural bacteriocins can be expected to be safe to Humans.
The potency of bacteriocin can further be enhanced by combining them with standard of care antibiotics.