Biochemical and biophysical research communications

A microplate assay for the coupled transglycosylase-transpeptidase activity of the penicillin binding proteins; a vancomycin-neutralizing tripeptide combination prevents penicillin inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis.

PMID 24944023


A microplate, scintillation proximity assay to measure the coupled transglycosylase-transpeptidase activity of the penicillin binding proteins in Escherichia coli membranes was developed. Membranes were incubated with the two peptidoglycan sugar precursors UDP-N-acetyl muramylpentapeptide (UDP-MurNAc(pp)) and UDP-[(3)H]N-acetylglucosamine in the presence of 40 μM vancomycin to allow in situ accumulation of lipid II. In a second step, vancomycin inhibition was relieved by addition of a tripeptide (Lys-D-ala-D-ala) or UDP-MurNAc(pp), resulting in conversion of lipid II to cross-linked peptidoglycan. Inhibitors of the transglycosylase or transpeptidase were added at step 2. Moenomycin, a transglycosylase inhibitor, had an IC50 of 8 nM. Vancomycin and nisin also inhibited the assay. Surprisingly, the transpeptidase inhibitors penicillin and ampicillin showed no inhibition. In a pathway assay of peptidoglycan synthesis, starting from the UDP linked sugar precursors, inhibition by penicillin was reversed by a 'neutral' combination of vancomycin plus tripeptide, suggesting an interaction thus far unreported.

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Vancomycin hydrochloride, European Pharmacopoeia (EP) Reference Standard
C66H75Cl2N9O24 · xHCl