Kinetics of enzyme acylation and deacylation in the penicillin acylase-catalyzed synthesis of beta-lactam antibiotics

Wynand B L Alkema, Erik de Vries, René Floris, Dick B Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Penicillin acylase catalyses the hydrolysis and synthesis of semisynthetic beta-lactam antibiotics via formation of a covalent acyl-enzyme intermediate. The kinetic and mechanistic aspects of these reactions were studied. Stopped-flow experiments with the penicillin and ampicillin analogues 2-nitro-5-phenylacetoxy-benzoic acid (NIPAOB) and d-2-nitro-5-[(phenylglycyl)amino]-benzoic acid (NIPGB) showed that the rate-limiting step in the conversion of penicillin G and ampicillin is the formation of the acyl-enzyme. The phenylacetyl- and phenylglycyl-enzymes are hydrolysed with rate constants of at least 1000 s-1 and 75 s-1, respectively. A normal solvent deuterium kinetic isotope effect (KIE) of 2 on the hydrolysis of 2-nitro-5-[(phenylacetyl)amino]-benzoic acid (NIPAB), NIPGB and NIPAOB indicated that the formation of the acyl-enzyme proceeds via a general acid-base mechanism. In agreement with such a mechanism, the proton inventory of the kcat for NIPAB showed that one proton, with a fractionation factor of 0.5, is transferred in the transition state of the rate-limiting step. The overall KIE of 2 for the kcat of NIPAOB resulted from an inverse isotope effect at low concentrations of D2O, which is overridden by a large normal isotope effect at large molar fractions of D2O. Rate measurements in the presence of glycerol indicated that the inverse isotope effect originated from the higher viscosity of D2O compared to H2O. Deacylation of the acyl-enzyme was studied by nucleophile competition and inhibition experiments. The beta-lactam compound 7-aminodesacetoxycephalosporanic acid (7-ADCA) was a better nucleophile than 6-aminopenicillanic acid, caused by a higher affinity of the enzyme for 7-ADCA and complete suppression of hydrolysis of the acyl-enzyme upon binding of 7-ADCA. By combining the results of the steady-state, presteady state and nucleophile binding experiments, values for the relevant kinetic constants for the synthesis and hydrolysis of beta-lactam antibiotics were obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3675-3683
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • acylation
  • anti-bacterial agents/biosynthesis
  • binding sites
  • binding, competitive
  • catalysis
  • cephalosporins/chemistry
  • deuterium
  • escherichia coli/enzymology
  • glycine/analogs & derivatives
  • hydrolysis
  • kinetics
  • penicillanic acid/analogs & derivatives
  • penicillin amidase/chemistry
  • phenylacetates/chemistry
  • protons
  • spectrophotometry, ultraviolet/methods
  • substrate specificity


Dive into the research topics of 'Kinetics of enzyme acylation and deacylation in the penicillin acylase-catalyzed synthesis of beta-lactam antibiotics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this