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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):22777-84. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.239988. Epub 2011 May 4.

Inactivation kinetics of a new target of beta-lactam antibiotics.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, Laboratoire de Recherche Moléculaire sur les Antibiotiques, Equipe 12, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 6, UMR S 872, Paris, F-75006 France.


Peptidoglycan is predominantly cross-linked by serine DD-transpeptidases in most bacterial species. The enzymes are the essential targets of β-lactam antibiotics. However, unrelated cysteine LD-transpeptidases have been recently recognized as a predominant mode of peptidoglycan cross-linking in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and as a bypass mechanism conferring resistance to all β-lactams, except carbapenems such as imipenem, in Enterococcus faecium. Investigation of the mechanism of inhibition of this new β-lactam target showed that acylation of the E. faecium enzyme (Ldt(fm)) by imipenem is irreversible. Using fluorescence kinetics, an original approach was developed to independently determine the catalytic constants for imipenem binding (k(1) = 0.061 μM(-1) min(-1)) and acylation (k(inact) = 4.5 min(-1)). The binding step was limiting at the minimal drug concentration required for bacterial growth inhibition. The Michaelis complex was committed to acylation because its dissociation was negligible. The emergence of imipenem resistance involved substitutions in Ldt(fm) that reduced the rate of formation of the non-covalent complex but only marginally affected the efficiency of the acylation step. The methods described in this study will facilitate development of new carbapenems active on extensively resistant M. tuberculosis.

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