Directed Enzyme Evolution and Encapsulation in Peptide Nanospheres of Quorum Quenching Lactonase as an Antibacterial Treatment against Plant Pathogen

David Gurevich, Shlomit Dor, Mayan Erov, Yoav Dan, Jehudith Clara Moy, Orly Mairesse, Mery Dafny-Yelin, Lihi Adler-Abramovich*, Livnat Afriat-Jurnou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The need to increase agricultural yield has led to an extensive use of antibiotics against plant pathogens, which has resulted in the emergence of resistant strains. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for new methods, preferably with lower chances of developing resistant strains and a lower risk to the environment or public health. Many Gram-negative bacterial pathogens use quorum sensing, a population-density-dependent regulatory mechanism, to monitor the secretion of N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) and pathogenicity. Therefore, quorum sensing represents an attractive antivirulence target. AHL lactonases hydrolyze AHLs and have potential antibacterial properties; however, their use is limited by thermal instability and durability, or low activity. Here, we demonstrate that an AHL lactonase from the phosphotriesterase-like lactonase family exhibits high activity with the AHL secreted from the plant pathogen Erwinia amylovora and attenuates infection in planta. Using directed enzyme evolution, we were able to increase the enzyme's temperature resistance (T50, the temperature at which 50% of the activity is retained) by 8 °C. Then, by performing enzyme encapsulation in nanospherical capsules composed of tertbutoxycarbonyl-Phe-Phe-OH peptide, the shelf life was extended for more than 5 weeks. Furthermore, the encapsulated and free mutant were able to significantly inhibit up to 70% blossom's infection in the field, achieving the same efficacy as seen with antibiotics commonly used today to treat the plant pathogen. We conclude that specific AHL lactonase can inhibit E. amylovora infection in the field, as it degrades the AHL secreted by this plant pathogen. The combination of directed enzyme evolution and peptide nanostructure encapsulation significantly improved the thermal resistance and shelf life of the enzyme, respectively, increasing its potential in future development as antibacterial treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2179-2188
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2021


  • AHL lactonase
  • Erwinia amylovora
  • bacterial plant pathogens
  • directed enzyme evolution
  • enzyme encapsulation
  • peptide nanostructures
  • quorum sensing and quenching


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