Antimicrobial Compounds

by Vincent Racaniello, PhD

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    00:00 I’d like to end up this discussion by talking about antimicrobial compounds that are used to treat bacterial infections and think we have a bacterial infection in us, we need to treat them with drugs that will kill the bacteria, but will not harm us. In other words, the antibiotics or antimicrobial compounds, have to be selective, they have to target things in the bacteria that are not present in ourselves. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do, because bacteria are very different from eukaryotic cells. I’ll give you an example of such selectivity. There is a class of antibiotics called the β-lactam antibiotics, and these include the penicillins, the cephalosporins, and the carbapenems. They are called β-lactam antibiotics because they have a chemical ring in them called the β-lactam ring. These antibiotics target the synthesis of murein. Now do you remember from an earlier lecture what murein is? In gram positive bacteria this forms a thick layer on the outside of the bacterium, just above the cell membrane, and it's composed of sugar molecules joined together and cross-linked by amino acids of short length. On the right of this slide is a diagram of the synthesis of murein. Murein is exclusive to bacteria, it does not occur in eukaryotic cells, and on this slide are four different antibiotics, fosfomycin, cycloserine, vancomycin, and penicillin, which block different steps on the synthesis of murein. So these antibiotics work beautifully, because murein is only in bacteria and not in our cells, so they have very, very little toxicity, and you can see we have developed over the years, antibiotics that target different steps in the synthesis of murein, including penicillin, that last step which is assembling the cross-linking amino acids between the sugar chains.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Antimicrobial Compounds by Vincent Racaniello, PhD is from the course Bacteria.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Prevents release of bacterial toxins
    2. Is bacteriocidal
    3. Prevents formation of bacterial cell wall
    4. Is specific to prokaryotic cells
    5. Does not effect the plasma membrane of human cells

    Author of lecture Antimicrobial Compounds

     Vincent Racaniello, PhD

    Vincent Racaniello, PhD

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