Activity of quinolones against gram-positive cocci: mechanisms of drug action and bacterial resistance

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2002 Sep;21(9):647-59. doi: 10.1007/s10096-002-0788-z. Epub 2002 Sep 7.


The quinolones are a potent class of antimicrobial agents that target two essential enzymes of bacterial cells: DNA gyrase and topoisomerase IV. Resistance is mediated chiefly through stepwise mutations in the genes that encode these enzymes, leading to alterations of the target site. These mutations occur in an area called the "quinolone resistance determining region". In gram-positive organisms, mutations occur more often in topoisomerase IV than in DNA gyrase. This target preference appears to depend upon two factors: the species of organism and the selecting drug. Resistance can be enhanced by a decrease in intracellular drug concentration, which is mediated through efflux pumps. The newer generation of fluoroquinolones and non-fluorinated quinolones exhibits enhanced activity against gram-positive organisms compared to the older members of this drug class, although development of resistance to these drugs has been demonstrated in vitro. This review gives a chronological perspective of the literature on the action of DNA gyrase and topoisomerase IV and the mechanisms of resistance to quinolones in staphylococci, streptococci and enterococci.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Enterococcus / drug effects
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staphylococcus / drug effects
  • Streptococcus / drug effects


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones