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Bacteriocins are potent small and heat-stable bactericidal peptides with antimicrobial properties against different groups of microorganisms, they are ribosomally-synthesized antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria. Bacteriocins are protein compounds that are lethal to all bacteria except the strain that produces them. As a group, bacteriocins are heterogeneous, and they are classified largely based on their molecular weight differences. Bacteriocins can be divided into two groups: Class I, lanthionine-containing bacteriocins (also known as lantibiotics), and Class II, lanthionine-free bacteriocins. Bacteriocin activity profiles can be narrow, restricted to inhibition of closely related species, or relatively broad, including many different bacterial species.
Fig.1 Bacteriocins can function as colonizing peptides. (Walsh, 2021)
The antibacterial properties of bacteriocins are exploited in food research. Bacteriocins are considered natural and safe food additives after being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. They have the interesting properties of stability, antibacterial action, potency, and not changing taste. Bacteriocins can be added to food through the direct inoculation of the producer strains as a concentrated fermented product or as a gradual-release preparation. Bacteriocins in general can reduce the cost of food handling while increasing the shelf life of products. Bacteriocins can be used alone or in combination with other known antimicrobials to target biofilms. Biofilms are structured bacterial consortia found in polymeric matrices and can be attached to both biotic and abiotic substrates. Bacteriocins provide a potential alternative therapeutic strategy for the treatment of MDR and chronic bacterial infections.
The mode of action of bacteriocins, which kill bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics, is often different from that of specific antibiotics. In addition, bacteriocins exhibit antimicrobial activity at concentrations much lower than those required for antibiotics. Bacteriocins are commonly used strategically by commensal bacteria to colonize and survive in the human gut. They may act like "probiotics". Bacteriocin's mechanism of action to inactivate bacteria is very similar to traditional antibiotics, as follows:
Bacteriocins have the advantages of low toxicity to eukaryotic cells, low MIC value to some strains, and a wide temperature resistance range. Some bacteriocins have broad application prospects in controlling the crisis of multidrug-resistant pathogens. These advantages of bacteriocins make them useful antimicrobials. In addition to these advantages, bacteriocins also have biomedical applications, such as Nisin, which has therapeutic effects on oral cancer without affecting normal tissues and cells. Bacteriocins typically have narrow to broad inhibitory profiles, meaning that insensitive commensal bacteria in the microbiome are not perturbed. As with phage therapies, an advantage of bacteriocins is that they are thought to have a lower potential for selective resistance than antibiotics.
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