Tetracyclines: Antibiotic Action, Uptake, and Resistance Mechanisms

Arch Microbiol. 1996 Jun;165(6):359-69. doi: 10.1007/s002030050339.


Tetracyclines probably penetrate bacterial cells by passive diffusion and inhibit bacterial growth by interfering with protein synthesis or by destroying the membrane. A growing number of various bacterial species acquire resistance to the bacteriostatic activity of tetracycline. The two widespread mechanisms of bacterial resistance do not destroy tetracycline: one is mediated by efflux pumps, the other involves an EF-G-like protein that confers ribosome protection. Oxidative destruction of tetracycline has been found in a few species. Several efflux transporters, including multidrug-resistance pumps and tetracycline-specific exporters, confer bacterial resistance against tetracycline. Single amino acids of these carrier proteins important for tetracycline transport and substrate specificity have been identified, allowing the mechanism of tetracycline transport to begin to emerge.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / drug effects
  • Tetracycline Resistance*
  • Tetracyclines / pharmacokinetics
  • Tetracyclines / pharmacology*


  • Tetracyclines