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Nat Prod Rep. 2013 Jan;30(1):21-107. doi: 10.1039/c2np20065a.

The enzymes of β-lactam biosynthesis.

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University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry, Chemistry Research Laboratory, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TA, UK.

Erratum in

  • Nat Prod Rep. 2014 Sep;31(9):1127.


The β-lactam antibiotics and related β-lactamase inhibitors are amongst the most important small molecules in clinical use. Most, but not all, β-lactams including penicillins, cephalosporins, and clavulanic acid are produced via fermentation or via modification of fermented intermediates, with important exceptions being the carbapenems and aztreonam. The desire for more efficient routes to existing antibiotics and for access to new and synthetically challenging ones stimulates continued interest in β-lactam biosynthesis. We review knowledge of the pathways leading to β-lactam antibiotics focusing on the mechanisms, structures and biocatalytic applications of the enzymes involved.

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