Plasmid-encoded β-lactamases are a major reason for antibiotic resistance in Gram negative bacteria. These enzymes hydrolyze the β-lactam ring structure of certain β-lactam antibiotics, consequently leading to their inactivation. The clinical situation demands for specific first-line antibiotic therapy combined with a quick identification of bacterial strains and their antimicrobial susceptibility. Strategies for the identification of β-lactamase activity are often cumbersome and usually lack sensitivity and specificity. The current work demonstrates that matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) is an ideal tool for these analytical investigations. Herein, we describe a fast and specific assay to determine β-lactamase activity in bacterial lysates. The feasibility of the analytical read-out was demonstrated on a MALDI-triple quadrupole (QqQ) and a MALDI time-of-flight (TOF) instrument, and the results allow the comparison of both approaches. The assay specifically measures enzyme-mediated, time-dependent hydrolysis of the β-lactam ring structure of penicillin G and ampicillin and inhibition of hydrolysis by clavulanic acid for clavulanic acid susceptible β-lactamases. The assay is reproducible and builds the basis for future in-depth investigations of β-lactamase activity in various bacterial strains by mass spectrometry.

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Journal of Proteome Research
Department of Neurology

Hooff, G.P, van Kampen, J.J.A, Schneider, P, van Belkum, A.F, Goessens, W.H.F, & Luider, T.M. (2012). Characterization of β-lactamase enzyme activity in bacterial lysates using MALDI-mass spectrometry. Journal of Proteome Research, 11(1), 79–84. doi:10.1021/pr200858r