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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 5, 2014

Tetracycline antibiotics and resistance mechanisms

  • Fabian Nguyen , Agata L. Starosta , Stefan Arenz , Daniel Sohmen , Alexandra Dönhöfer and Daniel N. Wilson EMAIL logo
From the journal Biological Chemistry


The ribosome and protein synthesis are major targets within the cell for inhibition by antibiotics, such as the tetracyclines. The tetracycline family of antibiotics represent a large and diverse group of compounds, ranging from the naturally produced chlortetracycline, introduced into medical usage in the 1940s, to second and third generation semi-synthetic derivatives of tetracycline, such as doxycycline, minocycline and more recently the glycylcycline tigecycline. Here we describe the mode of interaction of tetracyclines with the ribosome and mechanism of action of this class of antibiotics to inhibit translation. Additionally, we provide an overview of the diverse mechanisms by which bacteria obtain resistance to tetracyclines, ranging from efflux, drug modification, target mutation and the employment of specialized ribosome protection proteins.

Corresponding author: Daniel N. Wilson, Gene Center and Department of Biochemistry, University of Munich, Feodor-Lynenstr. 25, D-81377 Munich, Germany; and Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CiPSM), University of Munich, Feodor-Lynenstr. 25, D-81377 Munich, Germany, e-mail:


This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft FOR1805 (Grant WI3285/2-1 to D.N.W.) and the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Young Investigator Programme (D.N.W.); A.L.S. is funded by an AXA Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship.


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Received: 2013-12-6
Accepted: 2014-1-30
Published Online: 2014-2-5
Published in Print: 2014-5-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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