Antibiotic Efflux Pumps

Biochem Pharmacol. 2000 Aug 15;60(4):457-70. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(00)00291-4.


Active efflux from procaryotic as well as eucaryotic cells strongly modulates the activity of a large number of antibiotics. Effective antibiotic transport has now been observed for many classes of drug efflux pumps. Thus, within the group of primary active transporters, predominant in eucaryotes, six families belonging to the ATP-binding cassette superfamily, and including the P-glycoprotein in the MDR (Multi Drug Resistance) group and the MRP (Multidrug Resistance Protein), have been recognized as being responsible for antibiotic efflux. Within the class of secondary active transporters (antiports, symports, and uniports), ten families of antibiotic efflux pumps have been described, distributed in five superfamilies [SMR (Small Multidrug Resistance), MET (Multidrug Endosomal Transporter), MAR (Multi Antimicrobial Resistance), RND (Resistance Nodulation Division), and MFS (Major Facilitator Superfamily)]. Nowadays antibiotic efflux pumps are believed to contribute significantly to acquired bacterial resistance because of the very broad variety of substrates they recognize, their expression in important pathogens, and their cooperation with other mechanisms of resistance. Their presence also explains high-level intrinsic resistances found in specific organisms. Stable mutations in regulatory genes can produce phenotypes of irreversible multidrug resistance. In eucaryotes, antibiotic efflux pumps modulate the accumulation of antimicrobials in phagocytic cells and play major roles in their transepithelial transport. The existence of antibiotic efflux pumps, and their impact on therapy, must now be taken fully into account for the selection of novel antimicrobials. The design of specific, potent inhibitors appears to be an important goal for the improved control of infectious diseases in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / classification
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Conformation


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins