beta-lactamase

noun

be·​ta-lac·​ta·​mase ˈbā-tə-ˈlak-tə-ˌmās How to pronounce beta-lactamase (audio)
-ˌmāz
: any of various bacterial enzymes that inactivate the penicillins and cephalosporins by hydrolyzing them
When confronted with an antibiotic, a number of disease-causing bacteria will retaliate by making an enzyme called beta-lactamaseDiana Morgan and Terence Monmaney

Examples of beta-lactamase in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For example, clavulanic acid blocks an enzyme secreted by antibiotic-resistant bacteria (beta-lactamase) that inhibits the activity of beta-lactam antibiotics.13 Before Taking Penicillin can be very effective if used appropriately. Jenny Sweigard, Verywell Health, 16 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beta-lactamase.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

lactam, a cyclic amide (from International Scientific Vocabulary lact- + amide) + -ase

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of beta-lactamase was in 1963

Dictionary Entries Near beta-lactamase

Cite this Entry

“Beta-lactamase.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beta-lactamase. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

beta-lactamase

noun
be·​ta-lac·​ta·​mase
variants also β-lactamase
: any of various bacterial enzymes that inactivate beta-lactam antibiotics (such as penicillin and cephalosporin) by hydrolyzing them
When confronted with an antibiotic, a number of disease-causing bacteria will retaliate by making an enzyme called beta-lactamaseDiana Morgan and Terence Monmaney, Science
The most common mechanism of resistance to β-lactam antibiotics is the bacterial production of an enzyme called β-lactamase, which breaks one of the antibiotic's chemical bonds, changing its structure and preventing it from inhibiting the enzyme transpeptidase.K. C. Nicolaou et al., Scientific American

Note: Beta-lactamase was originally used only to refer to bacterial enzymes that inactivated penicillin. As additional types of beta-lactam antibiotics were introduced, other bacterial beta-lactamases were identified.

compare penicillinase
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