Protein synthesis inhibitors: aminoglycosides mechanism of action animation. Classification of agents

The following animation depicts the mechanism of action of aminoglycosides. This antibiotic class includes drugs such as gentamicin, streptomycin (used for TB treatment), amikacin, among others.

Aminoglycosides mechanism

Susceptible gram-negative organisms allow aminoglycosides to diffuse through porin channels in their outer membranes. These organisms also have an oxygen-dependent system that transports the drug across the cytoplasmic membrane. The antibiotic then binds to the 30S ribosomal subunit prior to ribosome formation .

There, it interferes with assembly of the functional ribosomal apparatus and/or can cause the 30S subunit of the completed ribosome to misread the genetic code. Polysomes become depleted, because the aminoglycosides interrupt the process of polysome disaggregation and assembly. [Note: The aminoglycosides synergize with β-lactam antibiotics because of the latter’s action on cell wall synthesis, which enhances diffusion of the aminoglycosides into the bacterium.]”

From Harvey, R; Champe, P (series editors). “Lippincott illustrated reviews: Pharmacology”, 4th edition. LWW: 2009.:

Aminoglycosides classification

-mycin (Streptomyces)

  • Streptomycin
  • Neomycin (Framycetin, Paromomycin, Ribostamycin)
  • Kanamycin (Amikacin, Arbekacin, Bekanamycin, Dibekacin, Tobramycin)
  • Hygromycin B · Spectinomycin
  • Paromomycin

-micin (Micromonospora)

  • Amikacin
  • Gentamicin (Netilmicin, Sisomicin, Isepamicin)
  • Verdamicin
  • Astromicin
Further reading

Gilbert, D; Moellering R (editors) “Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy”, 39th edition. Antimicrobial therapy: 2009


Hauser, A. “Antibiotic Basics for Clinicians: Choosing the Right Antibacterial Agent”.1st edition. LWW:2007


Gallagher, J. “Antibiotics Simplified”. 1st edition. Jones & Bartlett Publishers: 2008

Animation author

Gary Kaiser
Biology Department
The Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville Campus
Baltimore, MD 21228

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