The tetracycline resistome

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Feb;67(3):419-31. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-0172-6. Epub 2009 Oct 28.


Resistance to tetracycline emerged soon after its discovery six decades ago. Extensive clinical and non-clinical uses of this class of antibiotic over the years have combined to select for a large number of resistant determinants, collectively termed the tetracycline resistome. In order to impart resistance, microbes use different molecular mechanisms including target protection, active efflux, and enzymatic degradation. A deeper understanding of the structure, mechanism, and regulation of the genes and proteins associated with tetracycline resistance will contribute to the development of tetracycline derivatives that overcome resistance. Newer generations of tetracyclines derived from engineering of biosynthetic genetic programs, semi-synthesis, and in particular recent developments in their chemical synthesis, together with a growing understanding of resistance, will serve to retain this class of antibiotic to combat pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Tetracycline / biosynthesis
  • Tetracycline / chemistry*
  • Tetracycline / metabolism
  • Tetracycline Resistance* / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Tetracycline