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Bacitracin

Bacitracin is a cyclic peptide antibiotic, made up of 10 amino acids joined in a ring. It was first obtained from a strain of Bacillus subtilis grown from the infected wound of a 7-year-old girl, Margaret Tracy, in whose honour the antibiotic was named.

The spectrum of activity of bacitracin and related cyclic peptides such as gramicidin and tyrocidine is restricted to Gram-positive organisms. They are too toxic for systemic use but are suitable topical preparations. Bacitracin also finds a place in microbiology laboratories in the presumptive identification of Streptococcus pyogenes, which is susceptible to its action. Bacitracin acts by preventing regeneration of the lipid carrier in the cell membrane, which is left in an inactive phosphorylated form after transporting cell wall subunits.

 

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