Modes of action of antibacterial agents

David G. Allison*, Peter A. Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


This chapter describes the modes of action of the major antibiotics and synthetic agents used to treat bacterial infections. Particular attention is given to the biochemical mechanisms by which the agents interfere with biosynthetic processes and the basis for their selective antibacterial action. Interference with the biosynthesis and assembly of structural components of the bacterial cell wall provides the basis for many important groups of antibiotics, including the agents targeting steps in peptidoglycan synthesis. Other agents exploit more subtle differences between bacteria and mammalian cells in fundamental processes such as DNA, RNA and protein synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolecular medical microbiology
EditorsYi-Wei Tang, Max Sussman, Dongyou Liu, et al
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-801240-6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014


  • action
  • antibacterial agents
  • antibiotics
  • mechanism
  • selectivity


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  • Modes of action of antibacterial agents

    Allison, D. G. & Lambert, P. A., 1 Jan 2023, Molecular Medical Microbiology, Third Edition. Tang, Y-W., Hindiyeh, M. Y., Liu, D., Sails, A., Spearman, P. & Zhang, J-R. (eds.). Elsevier, p. 597-614 18 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter

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