Hydrolysis of tetradecyl betainate (B14), a fast-acting (QAC) being an ester of betaine and tetradecanol, occurred after binding to resulting in release of the water-soluble betaine portion and retention of the lipophilic tetradecanol. The rate of the hydrolysis was significant but retarded in comparison to B14 in solution. As in free solution, the hydrolysis of substance bound to was increased in an alkaline environment and by heat. At pH 6.0 and 20 ° the hydrolysis of bound ester was about 10% after 180 min, whereas at pH 9.0 and 50 ° it was about 50% after 60 min. These results are consistent with a model where amphiphilic QACs are inserted into the bacterial outer membrane (OM) with the quaternary ammonium head group facing outwards and the lipophilic portion, including the ester bond, being in the membrane lipid environment enough for retarding the hydrolysis. However, calculation of the mean concentration of B14 in the bacteria at MBC (minimum bactericidal concentration required to kill 99% of cells) showed a 7000-8000 times greater concentration than in the medium. At this concentration, when most B14 is considered to be bound to the OM, the available surface area for each molecule was only 2 å. This is only 6-7% of that required for close packing of the quaternary ammonium head group (30 å), indicating that a three-dimensional, presumably continuous arrangement was formed. Since B14 is hydrolysed after its binding to bacteria with microbicidal effect, it may be used under conditions where stable QACs might be harmful to the close or the common environment.


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