Antibiotics: Mechanism of Action

Antibacterial action generally falls within one of four mechanisms, three of which involve the inhibition or regulation of enzymes involved in cell wall biosynthesis, nucleic acid metabolism and repair, or protein synthesis, respectively. The fourth mechanism involves the disruption of membrane structure. Many of these cellular functions targeted by antibiotics are most active in multiplying cells. Since there is often overlap in these functions between prokaryotic bacterial cells and eukaryotic mammalian cells, it is not surprising that some antibiotics have also been found to be useful as anticancer agents.

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