Image illustrates DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. The first two are nucleic acids.
Image illustrates DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. The first two are nucleic acids.

A nucleic acid inhibitor is a type of antibacterial that acts by inhibiting the production of nucleic acids. There are two major classes: DNA inhibitors and RNA inhibitors.[1] The antifungal flucytosine acts in a similar manner.

DNA inhibitors

Classic DNA inhibitors such as the quinolones act upon DNA gyrase as a topoisomerase inhibitor.[2] Another group of DNA inhibitors, including nitrofurantoin and metronidazole, act upon anaerobic bacteria.[3] These act by generating metabolites that are incorporated into DNA strands, which then are more prone to breakage.[4] These drugs are selectively toxic to anaerobic organisms, but can affect human cells.

RNA inhibitors

RNA inhibitors such as rifampin, act upon DNA-dependent RNA polymerase.[5]

Antifolates (DNA, RNA, and protein)

Antifolates act primarily as inhibitors of both RNA and DNA, and are often grouped with nucleic acid inhibitors in textbooks. However, they also act indirectly as protein synthesis inhibitors (because tetrahydrofolate is also involved in the synthesis of amino acids serine and methionine), so they are sometimes considered as their own category, antimetabolites.[6] However, the term "antimetabolite", when used literally, can apply to many different classes of drugs.


  1. ^[dead link]
  2. ^ Gupta (2009). Clinical Ophthalmology: Contemporary Perspectives, 9/e. Elsevier India. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-81-312-1680-4. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
  3. ^ Ralph, E. D. (1978). "The bactericidal activity of nitrofurantoin and metronidazole against anaerobic bacteria". The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 4 (2): 177–184. doi:10.1093/jac/4.2.177. PMID 25874.
  4. ^ P. Denyer, Stephen; Hodges, Norman A.; P. Gorman, Sean (2004). Hugo and Russell's pharmaceutical microbiology. Oxford: Blackwell Science. pp. 215. ISBN 0-632-06467-6.
  5. ^ Calvori, C.; Frontali, L.; Leoni, L.; Tecce, G. (1965). "Effect of rifamycin on protein synthesis". Nature. 207 (995): 417–8. Bibcode:1965Natur.207..417C. doi:10.1038/207417a0. PMID 4957347. S2CID 4144738.
  6. ^ "BSCI 424 Pathogenic Microbiology -- Mechanisms of Antibiotic Action and Resistance".