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Resistance to β-lactam antibiotics is rapidly growing, substantially due to the spread of serine-β-lactamases (SBLs) and metallo-β-lactamases (MBLs), which efficiently catalyse β-lactam hydrolysis. Combinations of a β-lactam antibiotic with an SBL inhibitor have been clinically successful; however, no MBL inhibitors have been developed for clinical use. MBLs are a worrying resistance vector because they catalyse hydrolysis of all β-lactam antibiotic classes, except the monobactams, and they are being disseminated across many bacterial species worldwide. Here we review the classification, structures, substrate profiles, and inhibition mechanisms of MBLs, highlighting current clinical problems due to MBL-mediated resistance and progress in understanding and combating MBL-mediated resistance.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Microbiol

Publication Date



antimicrobial resistance, inhibition mechanism, inhibitor classification, metallo-β-lactamase, β-lactam