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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1980 May 16;289(1036):321-31.

The structure of beta-lactamases.


The beta-lactamases are widely distributed in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. They all inactivate penicillins and cephalosporins by opening the beta-lactam ring. Many varieties of the enzyme can be distinguished on the basis of their catalytic and molecular properties, but only amino acid sequence determination gives information upon which a molecular phylogeny can be based. The present evidence suggests that the beta-lactamases have a polyphyletic origin. All the beta-lactamases of currently known amino acid sequence belong to one homology group, here called class A enzymes. Class B consists of the mechanistically distinct Bacillus cereus beta-lactamase II, which preliminary partial sequence analysis suggests to be structurally unrelated to the class A enzymes. It is predicted that sequence analysis will show that further classes will need to be created to account for particular beta-lactamases of distinctive molecular and mechanistic properties.

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