The constitutively expressed, chromosomally encoded β-lactamase (BlaC) is the enzyme responsible for the intrinsic resistance to β-lactam antibiotics in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Previous studies from this laboratory have shown that the enzyme exhibits an extended-spectrum phenotype, with very high levels of penicillinase and cephalosporinase activity, as well as weak carbapenemase activity [Tremblay, L. W., et al. (2008) Biochemistry 47, 5312-5316]. In this report, we have determined the pH dependence of the kinetic parameters, revealing that the maximal velocity depends on the ionization state of two groups: a general base exhibiting a pK value of 4.5 and a general acid exhibiting a pK value of 7.8. Having defined a region where the kinetic parameters are pH-independent (pH 6.5), we determined solvent kinetic isotope effects (SKIEs) for three substrates whose kcat values differ by 5.5 orders of magnitude. Nitrocefin is a highly activated, chromogenic cephalosporin derivative that exhibits steady-state solvent kinetic isotope effects of 1.4 on both V and V/K. Cefoxitin is a slower cephalosporin derivative that exhibits a large SKIE on V of 3.9 but a small SKIE of 1.8 on V/K in steady-state experiments. Pre-steady-state, stopped-flow experiments with cefoxitin revealed a burst of β-lactam ring opening with associated SKIE values of 1.6 on the acylation step and 3.4 on the deacylation step. Meropenem is an extremely slow substrate for BlaC and exhibits burst kinetics in the steady-state experiments. SKIE determinations with meropenem revealed large SKIEs on both the acylation and deacylation steps of 3.8 and 4.0, respectively. Proton inventories in all cases were linear, indicating the participation of a single solvent-derived proton in the chemical step responsible for the SKIE. The rate-limiting steps for β-lactam hydrolysis of these substrates are analyzed, and the chemical steps responsible for the observed SKIE are discussed.
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