By use of a new computer-assisted u.v.-spectrophotometric assay method, the kinetic parameters of the reaction catalysed by Bacillus licheniformis 749/C beta-lactamase were re-examined and the mode of inhibition of the enzyme by compound PS-5, a novel beta-lactam antibiotic, was studied with benzylpenicillin as substrate. (1) The fundamental assay conditions for the determination of Km and V were examined in detail with benzylpenicillin as substrate. In 0.1 M-sodium/potassium phosphate buffer, pH 6.8, at 30 degrees C, initial substrate concentrations of benzylpenicillin above 0.7 mM were very likely to lead to substrate inhibition. The Km value of the enzyme for benzylpenicillin at initial concentrations from 1.96 to 0.07 mM was calculated to be 97-108 microM. (2) The Km values of the enzyme for 6-aminopenicillanic acid, ampicillin and cephaloridine were found to be 25, 154-161 and 144-161 microM respectively. (3) Compound PS-5 was virtually unattacked by Bacillus licheniformis 749/C beta-lactamase. (4) The activity of the enzyme was diminished by compound PS-5, to extents depending on the duration of incubation and the concentration of the inhibitor. The rate of inactivation of the enzyme by compound PS-5 followed first-order kinetics. (5) In an Appendix, a new computer-assisted u.v.-spectrophotometric enzyme assay method, in which a single reaction progress curve of time-absorbance was analysed by the integrated Michaelis-Menten equation, was devised for the accurate and precise determination of the kinetic constants of beta-lactamase. For conversion of absorbance readings into molar substrate concentrations, the initial or final absorbance reading that was independent of the reaction time was used as the basis of calculation. In calculation of Km and V three systematic methods of data combination were employed for finer analysis of the reaction progress curve. A list of the computer program named YF6TAIM is obtainable from the author on request or as Supplementary Publication SUP 50100 (12 pages) from the British Library Lending Division, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7BQ, U.K., on the terms indicated in Biochem. J. (1978) 169, 5.

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