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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 1999 Dec;12(6):529-36.

Antibiotic efflux mechanisms.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3206, USA.


Bacterial genomes sequenced to date almost invariably contain genes apparently coding for multidrug efflux pumps, and the yeast genome contains more than 30 putative multidrug efflux genes. Thus it is not surprising that multidrug efflux is a major cause of intrinsic drug resistance in many microorganisms, and plays an even more prominent role in organisms with a low-permeability cell wall, such as Gram negative bacteria in general and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in particular, as well as Mycobacterium species. Furthermore, overproduction of intrinsic pumps, or acquisition of pump genes from external sources, often results in high levels of resistance. This review discusses the classification of efflux proteins, their mechanism of action, the regulation of their expression, and the clinical significance of efflux pumps.

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