Bacteriocins: nature, function and structure.



Daw MA, Falkiner FR.

Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Alfateh University of Medical Sciences, Tripoli, Libya.

Micron. 1996 Dec;27(6):467-79.


Bacteriocins are extracellular substances produced by different types of bacteria, including both Gram positive and Gram negative species. They can be produced spontaneously or induced by certain chemicals such as mitomycin C. They are biologically one of the important substances, and have been found to be useful in membrane studies and also in typing pathogenic microorganisms causing serious nosocomial infections. Bacteriocins are a heterogeneous group of particles with different morphological and biochemical entities. They range from a simple protein to a high molecular weight complex: the active moiety of each molecule in all cases seems to be protein in nature. The genetic determinants of most of the bacteriocins are located on the plasmids, apart from few which are chromosomally encoded. These bactericidal particles are species specific. They exert their lethal activity through adsorption to specific receptors located on the external surface of sensitive bacteria, followed by metabolic, biological and morphological changes resulting in the killing of such bacteria. This review summarises the classification, biochemical nature, morphology and mode of action of bacteriocins as well as their genetic determinants and the microbiological relevance of these bactericidal agents.

Keywords: Bacteriocins; bacterophage; bacterium-like inhibitory substances; relaxed forms; contracted forms; pyocins; cloacins; bacterium typing