Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology

Quantifying enzymatic lysis: estimating the combined effects of chemistry, physiology, and physics

TitleQuantifying enzymatic lysis: estimating the combined effects of chemistry, physiology, and physics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMitchell GJ, Nelson DC, Weitz JS
JournalPhysical Biology
Start Page046002
Date Published10/2010

The number of microbial pathogens resistant to antibiotics continues to increase even as the rate of discovery and approval of new antibiotic therapeutics steadily decreases. Many researchers have begun to investigate the therapeutic potential of naturally occurring lytic enzymes as an alternative to traditional antibiotics. However, direct characterization of lytic enzymes using techniques based on synthetic substrates is often difficult because lytic enzymes bind to the complex superstructure of intact cell walls. Here we present a new standard for the analysis of lytic enzymes based on turbidity assays which allow us to probe the dynamics of lysis without preparing a synthetic substrate. The challenge in the analysis of these assays is to infer the microscopic details of lysis from macroscopic turbidity data. We propose a model of enzymatic lysis that integrates the chemistry responsible for bond cleavage with the physical mechanisms leading to cell wall failure. We then present a solution to an inverse problem in which we estimate reaction rate constants and the heterogeneous susceptibility to lysis among target cells. We validate our model given simulated and experimental turbidity assays. The ability to estimate reaction rate constants for lytic enzymes will facilitate their biochemical characterization and development as antimicrobial therapeutics.

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