Structural basis for cross-resistance to ribosomal PTC antibiotics

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 30;105(52):20665-70. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0810826105. Epub 2008 Dec 19.


Clinically relevant antibiotics that target the ribosomal peptidyl transferase center (PTC), a highly conserved ribosomal region, exert their inhibitory action by exploiting the flexibility of PTC nucleotides, which trigger modulations of the shape of the antibiotic binding pocket. Resistance to these antibiotics was observed clinically and in vitro. Based on the crystal structures of the large ribosomal subunit from eubacterium suitable to represent pathogens in complex with these antibiotics, it was found that all nucleotides mediating resistance to PTC antibiotics cluster on one side of the PTC. Over half of the nucleotides affecting resistance reside in regions of lower sequence conservation, and are too distal to make Van der Waals interactions with the bound drugs. Alterations of the identity of these nucleotides may not lethally affect ribosome function, but can hamper antibiotic binding through changes in the conformation and flexibility of specific PTC nucleotides. Comparative analysis revealed properties likely to lead to cross-resistance and enabled their parameterization. As the same nucleotides are frequently involved in resistance to more than a single family of antibiotics, the common pattern explains medically observed cross-resistance to PTC antibiotics and suggests the potential for a wider clinical threat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Deinococcus / chemistry*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry*
  • Haloarcula marismortui / chemistry*
  • Peptidyl Transferases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Peptidyl Transferases / chemistry*
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Ribosomes / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Peptidyl Transferases