Bacillus licheniformis (bacteria)
Alexander Fleming, recipient of the 1945 Nobel prize in medicine, in his search for bactericidal agents, discovered first the protein lysozyme and then the chemical penicillin as such agents. His discovery saved many lives of allied soldiers during World War II, people who would have died from infections caused by bacteria entering the body through open wounds. Penicillin then became one of the major weapons in fighting bacterial infections. But bacteria fought back. Since its discovery penicillin proved to be very useful and effective and it and other related compounds are frequently used, often preventively and unnecessarily. As a result of such heavy usage selective pressure on bacterial population favors those that develop resistance against such reagents. Bacteria have developed an enzyme, beta-lactamase, that can attack and digest penicillin and cephalosporins. Therefore it is of great interest to develop drugs that can bind in the active site of the protein and inhibit its activity. Such a drug can then be prescribed together with penicillin to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria.
The structure shown here is that of a bacterial beta-lactamase. Analysis of the geometry of the active site of such an enzyme will help to provide information for the design of new compounds that can be used in the fight against bacterial infections.
Protein Data Bank (PDB)
Knox, J.R. Moews, P.C.; "Beta-lactamase of Bacillus licheniformis 749/C. Refinement at 2 A resolution and analysis of hydration."; J. Mol. Biol.; (1991) 220:435-455 PubMed:1856867.
author: Arno Paehler