Molecular dynamics simulation in aqueous solution of N-methylazetidinone as a model of β-lactam antibiotics

Jesús Pitarch, Juan Luis Pascual-Ahuir, Estanislao Silla, Iñaki Tuñón, Manuel F. Ruiz-López, Claude Millot, Juan Bertrán

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9 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we analyze the results of a molecular dynamics simulation in aqueous solution of the N-methylazetidinone molecule, often used to model β-lactam antibiotics. The radial distribution functions (RDFs) corresponding to the most interesting atoms, in terms of reactivity, are presented. We focus our study on the effect of a polar environment on the molecule. The solvent structure around the system is compared to the structure of β-lactam-water complexes, as obtained in a previous study of reaction mechanisms for the neutral and alkaline hydrolyses of N-methylazetidinone. Two types of complexes have been considered which are related to different hydrolysis mechanisms having similar energy barriers at the rate-limiting step of the reaction path. In the first type, the β-lactam-water interaction takes place through the oxygen carbonyl atom and there is agreement between the maxima of the RDFs obtained here and the ab initio structure of the complexes previously reported. In the second type, the interaction takes place through the nitrogen atom and we do not predict a coordination layer around the β-lactam nitrogen atom. The results suggest that in aqueous solution hydrolysis of the carbonyl group is the most probable starting point for the overall hydrolysis reaction. Some discussion on the use of cluster models to represent the solvent effect is included.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-342
JournalTheoretical Chemistry Accounts
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Molecular dynamics
  • N-methylazetidinone
  • Solvent effects
  • β-Lactam hydrolysis


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