Antimicrobial resistance is a current major challenge in chemotherapy and infection control. The ability of bacterial and eukaryotic cells to recognize and pump toxic compounds from within the cell to the environment before they reach their targets is one of the important mechanisms contributing to this phenomenon. Drug efflux pumps are membrane transport proteins that require energy to export substrates and can be selective for a specific drug or poly-specific that can export multiple structurally diverse drug compounds. These proteins can be classified into seven groups based on protein sequence homology, energy source and overall structure. Extensive studies on efflux proteins have resulted in a wealth of knowledge that has made possible in-depth understanding of the structures and mechanisms of action, substrate profiles, regulation and possible inhibition of many clinically important efflux pumps. This review focuses on describing known families of drug efflux pumps using examples that are well characterized structurally and/or biochemically.

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