New antibiotics with novel modes of action are required to combat the growing threat posed by multi-drug resistant bacteria. Over the last decade, genome sequencing and other high-throughput techniques have provided tremendous insight into the molecular processes underlying cellular functions in a wide range of bacterial species. We can now use these data to assess the degree of conservation of certain aspects of bacterial physiology, to help choose the best cellular targets for development of new broad-spectrum antibacterials.
DNA replication is a conserved and essential process, and the large number of proteins that interact to replicate DNA in bacteria are distinct from those in eukaryotes and archaea; yet none of the antibiotics in current clinical use acts directly on the replication machinery. Bacterial DNA synthesis thus appears to be an underexploited drug target. However, before this system can be targeted for drug design, it is important to understand which parts are conserved and which are not, as this will have implications for the spectrum of activity of any new inhibitors against bacterial species, as well as the potential for development of drug resistance. In this review we assess similarities and differences in replication components and mechanisms across the bacteria, highlight current progress towards the discovery of novel replication inhibitors, and suggest those aspects of the replication machinery that have the greatest potential as drug targets.
Keywords: DnaB, DnaC, DnaE, DNA polymerase IIIC, DnaG primase, helicase, Staphylococcus aureus, pthogens, genome sequencing, DNA replication
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