Since their discovery in 1945 (Johnson et al., 1945), the bacitracin peptides have been extensively studied by microbiologists, biochemists, and chemists. Although the major effort has been directed toward elucidation of the mechanism for the antimicrobial activity of bacitracins, the peptides have also served as useful tools for studying various biochemical processes and the chemistry of lipid peptide interactions. The primary goal of this article is to review the literature concerning the mechanism of action of bacitracin. Although this problem has been studied for over twenty years, the mechanism for bacitracin’s biological activities has not been unambiguously defined. Indeed, the bacitracins apparently affect a number of biochemical processes and it is not clear that the peptides inhibit bacterial growth by virtue of a single effect on bacterial metabolism. The timing of this review was dictated by the rapid proliferation of research in this area, and the existence of several different proposals in the literature for the mechanism of action of bacitracin.
KeywordsDivalent Cation Bacillus Licheniformis Antibiotic Activity Farnesyl Pyrophosphate Spore Coat
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