Quinolone mode of action

Drugs. 1995;49 Suppl 2:10-5. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199500492-00004.


Physical studies have further defined interactions of quinolones with their principal target, DNA gyrase. The binding of quinolones to the DNA gyrase-DNA complex suggests 2 possible binding sites of differing affinities. Mutations in either the gyrase A gene (gyrA) or the gyrase B gene (gyrB) that affect quinolone susceptibility also affect drug binding, with resistance mutations causing decreased binding and hypersusceptibility mutations causing increased binding. Combinations of mutations in both GyrA and GyrB have further demonstrated the contribution of both subunits to the quinolone sensitivity of intact bacteria and purified DNA gyrase. A working model postulates initial binding of quinolones to proximate sites on GyrA and GyrB. This initial binding then produces conformational changes that expose additional binding sites, possibly involving DNA. Quinolones also inhibit the activities of Escherichia coli topoisomerase IV (encoded by the parC and parE genes), but at concentrations higher than those inhibiting DNA gyrase. The patterns of resistance mutations in gryA and parC suggest that topoisomerase IV may be a secondary drug target in E. coli and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In contrast, in Staphylococcus aureus these patterns suggest that topoisomerase IV may be a primary target of quinolone action. Regulation of expression of membrane efflux transporters may contribute to quinolone susceptibility in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The substrate profile of the NorA efflux transporter of S. aureus correlates with the extent to which the activity of quinolone substrates is affected by overexpression of NorA. In addition, the Emr transporter of E. coli affects susceptibility to nalidixic acid, and the MexAB OprK transport system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa affects susceptibility to ciprofloxacin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Quinolones
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Topoisomerase II Inhibitors*


  • 4-Quinolones
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Topoisomerase II Inhibitors