Enzymatic synthesis of ß-lactam antibiotics via direct condensation

R.V. Ulijn, L. de Martin, P.J. Halling, B.D. Moore, A.E.M. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the feasibility of precipitation driven synthesis of acidic and zwitterionic -lactam antibiotics is studied. As an example of the first type, penicillin G was produced in good yield (160 mmol kg-1) directly from the free acid and amine aqueous substrate suspension, where the synthesis product precipitated. Such a precipitation driven synthesis via direct reversal of the hydrolytic reaction is thermodynamically unfavourable for zwitterionic -lactam antibiotics, such as amoxicillin. In this paper, a novel method is suggested to help favour precipitation of (poorly soluble) product salts by deliberate addition of certain counter-ions. After screening a number of different counter-ions, it was found that the amoxicillin anion forms a poorly soluble salt with Zn2 . Despite increased -lactam degradation due to the presence of zinc ions, in a synthetic reaction with 0.1 M ZnSO4 present the synthetic yield could be increased at least 30-fold.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-222
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • β-Lactam antibiotics
  • Biocatalysis
  • Peptides
  • Product precipitation
  • Solid-to-solid


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