The OHIO-1 beta-lactamase does not normally hydrolyse oxyimino-beta-lactam substrates like cefotaxime, ceftriaxone, ceftazidime or aztreonam. We were able to select spontaneous mutants of an OHIO-1-bearing strain of Escherichia coli using the antibiotic substrates listed above by enrichment methods of frequencies of 10(-8)-10(-10) for all antibiotics except ceftazidime (frequency less than 10(-10)). Most mutants with increased resistance to the other beta-lactams were also more resistant to ceftazidime. Mutations identified by DNA sequencing included a Gly238----Ser238 substitution identical with the SHV-2 mutation previously described, cysteine and valine substitutions at the identical site, and a Gly242----Cys242 substitution. The Cys238 and Cys242 mutant enzymes had less affinity for aztreonam than had the other mutant enzymes. Hydrolysis of cefotaxime, but not cephaloridine, by the cysteine-substituted enzymes was inhibited by p-chloromercuribenzoate. The mutant enzymes had, in general, greater affinity for the mechanism-based inhibitors sulbactam, clavulanic acid and tazobactam. These results suggest two non-mutually exclusive hypotheses for the structural role of substitutions in this area of the enzyme. Either potential hydrogen-bond donors, such as serine and cysteine, interact directly with the beta-lactam molecules, or the steric bulk of these substitutions distorts the beta-pleated sheet such that the beta-lactam is held in a position favourable for stable binding and catalysis. Finally, our data raise questions about a strategy relying on oligonucleotide-probe technology to detect such mutations, because of the variety of substitutions that give rise to similar phenotypes.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.