D-Alanine (D-Ala) is a ubiquitous constituent of bacterial cell walls. Assays for D-Ala can be used to investigate several aspects of cell wall biosynthesis and the effects of antibiotics on this process. High-sensitivity fluorescent assays for D-Ala were developed in a microtiter plate format based on d-aminoacid oxidase/horseradish peroxidase (DAO/HRP)-coupled reactions. For comparative purposes the classic chromogenic (UV-vis) assay using o-phenylenediamine (OPD) was also adapted to microtiter plates. OPD gave a lower limit of sensitivity of 2 nmol and was linear up to 60 nmol. Two commercially available fluorogenic HRP substrates were then tested in this assay. Amplex Red (AR) gave a lower limit of sensitivity of 2 pmol and was linear up to 400 pmol d-Ala. QuantaBlu (QB) based assays exhibited a lag in their response to D-Ala corresponding to 50 pmol D-Ala. This lag complicated calibration, but could be eliminated by addition of 150 pmol D-Ala to all assays. The QB assays were linear up to 3000 pmol D-Ala and gave a lower limit of sensitivity of 10 pmol. These assays are demonstrated for the characterization of the dd-carboxypeptidase activity of a soluble form of Escherichia coli penicillin-binding protein 5 (PBP 5) against the classic PBP substrate diacetyl-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala. AR and QB based assays gave identical v/E(T) profiles, whereas OPD based assays gave slightly (10%) higher activity. This is consistent with the loss of a small amount of E. coli PBP 5 activity during the dilution necessary prior to its use in the highly sensitive fluorescent assays. These assays were then demonstrated for characterization of vancomycin binding to a D-Ala-D-Ala-based substrate.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.