Antibiotics that target the bacterial ribosome.

The ribosome is responsible for protein synthesis in all living cells and is therefore critical to bacterial survival. As a complex macromolecular machine, the ribosome offers a variety of structural and functional targets critical for its function that can be inhibited by antibiotics.

The bacterial ribosome consists of two subunits, the smaller 30S subunit and the larger 50S subunit. Clinically relevant antibiotics acting on the ribosome interfere with transfer RNA-related processes on the 30S subunit or polypeptide formation on the 50S subunit, while exerting their action by exploiting the structural and functional differences between bacterial and eukaryotic ribosomes.

Examples of clinically relevant ribosome inhibitors include tetracyclines such as doxycycline, aminoglycosides such as streptomycin, gentamycin and tobramycin as well as macrolides such as erythromycin and azithromycin and oxazolidinones such as linezolid.