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Annu Rev Biochem. 2005;74:649-79.

Antibiotics targeting ribosomes: resistance, selectivity, synergism and cellular regulation.

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Department of Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel.


Antibiotics target ribosomes at distinct locations within functionally relevant sites. They exert their inhibitory action by diverse modes, including competing with substrate binding, interfering with ribosomal dynamics, minimizing ribosomal mobility, facilitating miscoding, hampering the progression of the mRNA chain, and blocking the nascent protein exit tunnel. Although the ribosomes are highly conserved organelles, they possess subtle sequence and/or conformational variations. These enable drug selectivity, thus facilitating clinical usage. The structural implications of these differences were deciphered by comparisons of high-resolution structures of complexes of antibiotics with ribosomal particles from eubacteria resembling pathogens and from an archaeon that shares properties with eukaryotes. The various antibiotic-binding modes detected in these structures demonstrate that members of antibiotic families possessing common chemical elements with minute differences might bind to ribosomal pockets in significantly different modes, governed by their chemical properties. Similarly, the nature of seemingly identical mechanisms of drug resistance is dominated, directly or via cellular effects, by the antibiotics' chemical properties. The observed variability in antibiotic binding and inhibitory modes justifies expectations for structurally based improved properties of existing compounds as well as for the discovery of novel drug classes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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