Multidrug resistance in enteric and other gram-negative bacteria

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1996 May 15;139(1):1-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1996.tb08172.x.


In Gram-negative bacteria, multidrug resistance is a term that is used to describe mechanisms of resistance by chromosomal genes that are activated by induction or mutation caused by the stress of exposure to antibiotics in natural and clinical environments. Unlike plasmid-borne resistance genes, there is no alteration or degradation of drugs or need for genetic transfer. Exposure to a single drug leads to cross-resistance to many other structurally and functionally unrelated drugs. The only mechanism identified for multidrug resistance in bacteria is drug efflux by membrane transporters, even though many of these transporters remain to be identified. The enteric bacteria exhibit mostly complex multidrug resistance systems which are often regulated by operons or regulons. The purpose of this review is to survey molecular mechanisms of multidrug resistance in enteric and other Gram-negative bacteria, and to speculate on the origins and natural physiological functions of the genes involved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / genetics*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial / physiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics*