The maintenance of DNA supercoiling is essential for the proper regulation of a plethora of biological processes. As a consequence of this mode of regulation, ahead of the replication fork, DNA replication machinery is prone to introducing supercoiled regions into the DNA double helix. Resolution of DNA supercoiling is essential to maintain DNA replication rates that are amenable to life. This resolution is handled by evolutionarily conserved enzymes known as topoisomerases. The activity of topoisomerases is essential, and therefore constitutes a prime candidate for targeting by antibiotics. In this review, we present hallmark investigations describing the mode of action of quinolones, one of the antibacterial classes targeting the function of topoisomerases in bacteria. By chronologically analyzing data gathered on the mode of action of this imperative antibiotic class, we highlight the necessity to look beyond primary drug-target interactions towards thoroughly understanding the mechanism of quinolones at the level of the cell.
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