Fluoride Action Network


Fluoride is a toxic anion found in many natural environments. One of the major bacterial defenses against fluoride is the cell envelope, which limits passage of the membrane-impermeant fluoride anion. Accordingly, compounds that enhance the permeability of bacterial membranes to fluoride should also enhance fluoride toxicity. In this study, we demonstrate that the pore-forming antibiotic gramicidin D increases fluoride uptake in Bacillus subtilis and that the antibacterial activity of this compound is potentiated by fluoride. Polymyxin B, another membrane-targeting antibiotic with a different mechanism of action, shows no such improvement. These results, along with previous findings, indicate that certain compounds that destabilize bacterial cell envelopes can enhance the toxicity of fluoride.