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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1983 Jul; 24(1): 107–113.
PMCID: PMC185112

Polycations sensitize enteric bacteria to antibiotics.


Polymyxin B nonapeptide, a polymyxin B derivative which lacks the fatty acyl part and the bactericidal activity of polymyxin, was shown to sensitize smooth encapsulated Escherichia coli (O18:K1) and smooth Salmonella typhimurium to hydrophobic antibiotics (novobiocin, fusidic acid, erythromycin, clindamycin, nafcillin, and cloxacillin). The polymyxin B nonapeptide-treated bacteria were as sensitive to these antibiotics as are deep rough mutants. A lysine polymer with 20 lysine residues (lysine 20) had a largely similar effect. Larger lysine polymers and the protamine salmine were bactericidal but, at sublethal concentrations, sensitized the strains to the antibiotics mentioned above, whereas lysine4, streptomycin, cytochrome c, lysozyme, and the polyamines cadaverine, spermidine, and spermine had neither bactericidal nor sensitizing activity.

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