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Science  08 Jun 1945:
Vol. 101, Issue 2632, pp. 592-594
DOI: 10.1126/science.101.2632.592


Thioglycolic acid neutralized with sodium carbonate, sodium thioglycolate (Eastman), ethyl mercaptan, cysteine hydrochloride and certain sulfur-containing reducing agents (sodium bisulfite and sodium hydrosulfite) antagonize the antibacterial action of 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone on Escherichia coli in a synthetic medium. Other reducing agents such as stannous chloride, potassium formate and sodium thiosulfate, show no such antagonism. The antibacterial activities of 2-methyl-3-chloro-1,4-naphthoquinone and 2,6-dimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone are also abolished by excess thioglycolate and cysteine, while that of 2-methyl-3-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone with -OCH3 instead of -Cl or -H in the 3 position on the quinone ring, is not. These findings suggest that the mode of antibacterial action of 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone is by blocking essential enzymes through combination with sulfhydryl groups, or through combination with sulfhydryl groups of essential bacterial metabolites. This combination may take place in the 3-position on the quinone ring. This mode of action is similar to that suggested by other investigators for several antibiotic agents including penicillin. The antibacterial activity of the methoxy quinone, however, even in the presence of sulfhydryl groups, suggests that the foregoing explanation may not be the complete one.

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