Antibacterial Agents: Basis of Action

Abstract

Antibacterial agents alleviate infection through a variety of modes of action including the inhibition of protein, nucleic acid and cell wall synthesis.

Keywords: antibiotics; antibacterial agents; mechanism of action; therapy; treatment of infection

Figure 1.

Bacterial cell, showing possible targets for selective attack.

Figure 2.

The cell envelope of a Gram‐positive bacterium. Note that not all the components shown occur in every strain of Gram‐positive bacterium. P, protein; PL, phospholipid. Flagella are not illustrated. The secondary wall polymer is frequently teichoic acid. Reproduced with permission from Hancock I and Poxton I (1988) Bacterial Cell Surface Techniques. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Figure 3.

The cell envelope of a Gram‐negative bacterium. LP, lipoprotein; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; P, protein; PL, phospholipid. Flagella are not illustrated. Reproduced with permission from Hancock I and Poxton I (1988) Bacterial Cell Surface Techniques. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Figure 4.

Sites of action of inhibitors of bacterial cell wall syntheses. NAMA, N‐acetylmuramic acid; NAG, N‐acetylglucosamine. Reproduced with permission from Greenwood D, Slack RCB and Peutherer JF (eds) (1997) Medical Microbiology, 15th edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Figure 5.

Bacterial protein synthesis, showing the steps that are inhibited by various antibacterial agents.

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Further Reading

Chopra I and Brennan P (1998) Molecular action of anti‐mycobacterial agents. Tubercle and Lung Disease 78: 89–98.

Greenwood D (ed.) (1995) Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hancock REW and Lehrer R (1998) Cationic peptides: a new source of antibiotics. Trends in Biotechnology 16: 82–88.

O'Grady F, Lambert HP, Finch RG and Greenwood D (eds) (1997) Antibiotic and Chemotherapy, 7th edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Pratt WB and Fekety R (1986) The Antimicrobial Drugs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Russell AD and Chopra I (1996) Understanding Antibacterial Action and Resistance, 2nd edn. London: Ellis Horwood.

Williams RAD, Lambert PA and Singleton P (1996) Antimicrobial Drug Action. Oxford: Bios Scientific Publishers.

Wyckoff TJO, Raetz CRH and Jackman JE (1998) Antibacterial and anti‐inflammatory agents that target endotoxin. Trends in Microbiology 6: 154–159.

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How to Cite close
Chopra, Ian, and Greenwood, David(Apr 2001) Antibacterial Agents: Basis of Action. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001992]