FIG. 8: The Role of Penicillins in Blocking Transpeptidase Enzymes
from Assembling the Peptide Cross-Links in Peptidoglycan

During normal bacterial growth, bacterial enzymes called autolysins put breaks in the peptidoglycan in order to allow for insertion of peptidoglycan building blocks (monomers of NAG-NAM-pentapeptide). These monomers are then attached to the growing end of the bacterial cell wall with transglycosidase enzymes. Finally, transpeptidase enzymes join the peptide of one monomer with that of another in order to provide strength to the cell wall. Penicillins and cephalosporins bind to the transpeptidase enzyme and block the formation of the peptide cross-links. This results in a weak cell wall and osmotic lysis of the bacterium.

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