How does penicillin works as an enzyme inhibitor?

1 Answer
Feb 18, 2018

Penicillin works by inhibiting the cross-linking process that bacteria have to build up their cell wall.


Bacterial cells must be actively growing for penicillin to work on them. They also must not have resistance to penicillin (which is a major problem nowadays).

Peptidoglycan, the primary structure of bacterial cell walls, is formed by repeating subunits. These are called NAG and NAM (for simplicity's sake). Several amino acids link the long chains of these subunits together.

Penicillin works by interfering with the enzymes that promote this 'crosslinking' of peptidoglycan.

Often, bacteria create penicillinases, or beta-lactamases, to 'cut' a chemical structure in the penillin molecule. This will render it inactive.