2.1 Inhibitors of cell wall synthesis
As you saw in Activity 2, the cell wall is essential for normal functioning of the bacterial cell. Antibiotic inhibitors of cell wall synthesis block the production of
Examples of cell wall synthesis inhibitors are the ß-lactam antibiotics. These include penicillin and its derivatives, and the cephalosporins. All ß-lactam antibiotics contain a core chemical structure called a ß-lactam ring (Figure 4) which determines the mode of action of this class of antibiotics.
The ß-lactam antibiotics interfere with the formation of the peptidoglycan cross-links, thereby weakening the cell wall. You will learn more about the precise mechanism in this week’s case study (Section 3). For now, you can see the effect of the disrupted cell wall on bacterial growth in Video 3.