Streptomyces albus G secretes a Zn2+-containing D-alanyl-D-alanine peptidase. Streptomyces R61 and Actinomadura R39 secrete D-alanyl-D-alanine-cleaving serine peptidases. The effect of non-classical beta-lactam antibiotics on these three model enzymes has been studied. Mecillinam, cefoxitin, quinacillin, quinacillin sulphone, clavulanate and N-formimidoylthienamycin have no effect on the Zn2+-containing enzyme. 6-Amino-penicillanic acid slowly inactivates this enzyme and 7-aminocephalosporanic acid behaves as a reversible inhibitor. Cefoxitin and N-formimidoylthienamycin are potent anti-bacterial agents; they effectively inactivate the serine R39 enzyme and, to a lesser extent, the serine R61 enzyme. All the other beta-lactam compounds tested, including mecillinam, are slow inactivators of these serine enzymes. The intermediates formed between 6-aminopenicillanic acid and the R61 and R39 enzymes are long- and short-lived respectively, whereas those formed between 7-aminocephalosporanic acid and the same R61 and R39 enzymes are short- and long-lived respectively. Breakdown of the short-lived intermediates thus obtained gives rise to several ninhydrin-positive degradation products. The intermediates formed between clavulanate and the serine enzymes are long-lived. With the R39 enzyme, the inactivated complex formed in a first step undergoes subsequent monomolecular rearrangement to give rise to a second species exhibiting a high absorbance at 273 nm.

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