Llinás, Antonio, Donoso, Josefa, Vilanova, Bartholomew, Frau, Juan, Munoz, Francisco and Page, Michael I. (2000) Thiol-catalysed hydrolysis of benzylpenicillin. Journal of the Chemical Society Perkin Transactions 2 (7). pp. 1521-1525. ISSN 1472779X

Thiolysis of benzylpenicillin has been investigated by HPLC and 1H-NMR techniques. Thiols catalyse the hydrolysis of benzylpenicillin through the formation of a thioester intermediate. The catalytically reactive form of the thiol has been demonstrated to be the thiolate anion. Variation of reactivity with changing basicity of the thiolate anion generates a Brønsted nuc value of 0.96, indicating that the breakdown of the tetrahedral intermediate is the rate-limiting step, as occurs in aminolysis and alcoholysis. Solvent kinetic isotope effects of 2.2–2.4 indicate that the solvent, water, probably acts as a general acid catalyst in the breakdown of the tetrahedral intermediate. PM3 theoretical calculations support the proposal that breakdown of the tetrahedral intermediate is rate-limiting. The experimental activation energies for the thiolysis of benzylpenicillin vary from 6.9 to 10.4 kcal mol–1

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