The efficiency of C-4 substituents in activating the -lactam scaffold towards serine proteases and hydroxide ion

Mulchande, Jalmira; Martins, Luísa; Moreira, Rui; Archer, Margarida; Oliveira, Tania F. and Iley, Jim (2007). The efficiency of C-4 substituents in activating the -lactam scaffold towards serine proteases and hydroxide ion. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 5 pp. 2617–2626.



The presence of a leaving group at C-4 of monobactams is usually considered to be a requirement for mechanism-based inhibition of human leukocyte elastase by these acylating agents. We report that second-order rate constants for the alkaline hydrolysis and elastase inactivation by N-carbamoyl monobactams are independent of the pKa of the leaving group at C-4. Indeed, the effect exerted by these substituents is purely inductive: electron-withdrawing substituents at C-4 of N-carbamoyl-3,3-diethylmonobactams increase the rate of alkaline hydrolysis and elastase inactivation, with Hammett rho-I values of 3.4 and 2.5, respectively, which indicate the development of a negative charge in the transition-states. The difference in magnitude between these rho-I values is consistent with an earlier transition-state for the enzymatic reaction when compared with that for the chemical process. These results suggest that rate limiting step in elastase inactivation is the formation of the tetrahedral intermediate, and that beta-lactam ring-opening is not concerted with the departure of a leaving group from C-4. Monobactam sulfones emerged as potent elastase inhibitors even when the ethyl groups at C-3, required for interaction with the primary recognition site, are absent. For one such compound, a 1:1 enzyme-inhibitor complex involving porcine pancreatic elastase has been examined by X-ray crystallography and shown to result from serine acylation and sulfinate departure from the β-lactam C-4.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions