• Tetracycline, EP packaged and labeled.

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SKU: T016

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Tetracycline is a light-sensitive bacteriostatic polyketide antibiotic frequently used in a wide range of in vitro cell culture applications. Tetracycline (achromycin) is a first-generation tetracycline antibiotic and was first identified in 1953 by Chemist Lloyd Conover’s team at Pfizer, in collaboration with R.B. Woodward of Harvard University. Tetracycline is a naturally occurring antibiotic from S. aureofaciens, S. rimosus, and S. viridofacien that shows wide ranging activity against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.

Tetracycline is a protein synthesis inhibitor. Tetracycline bind the 30s ribosomal subunit, preventing the aminoacyl-tRNA from attaching to the A site. Consequently, protein synthesis is inhibited. Resistance to tetracycline arises from loss of cell wall permeability, tetracycline efflux, ribosome protection and tetracycline modification.

Tetracycline is used to study transcriptional activation. Knowledge of tetracycline led to the development of a popular inducible expression system in eukaryotic cells known as Tet-Off and Tet-On. Tetracycline is also used in multidrug resistance studies and in cell culture applications as a selective agent. Additionally, it promotes expression of the P450 proteins.

TOKU-E offers three forms of tetracycline: tetracycline HCL (T004)tetracycline, USP (T051), and tetracycline, EP (T016).  Tetracycline, USP and tetracycline, EP are sparingly soluble in aqueous solution at 0.231 mg/mL.  Tetracycline HCl, is slightly soluble in aqueous solution at 10mg/mL.

Tetracycline, EP (T016) conforms with European Pharmacopeia specifications.

    CAS Number


    Molecular Formula

    C22H24N2O8 · xH2O

    Molecular Weight

    444.43 g/mol (anhydrous basis)

    Mechanism of Action

    Tetracycline inhibits bacterial growth in gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria by disrupting codon-anticodon interactions at the ribosome, thus blocking protein synthesis. Specifically, tetracycline binds to a single site on the 30S ribosomal subunit and inhibit protein synthesis by blocking the attachment of charged aminoacyl-tRNA to the A site on the ribosome. Thus, they prevent introduction of new amino acids to the nascent peptide chain. 

    Mammalian cells are not vulnerable to the effect of tetracycline as these cells contain no 30S ribosomal subunits so do not accumulate the drug. Tetracycline inhibits protein synthesis by preventing amino-acyl tRNA from binding to the “A” site in the bacterial ribosome.

    Storage Conditions


    Tariff Code



    Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, effective against both gram-positive, gram-negative bacteria, and mycoplasma. A few species of bacteria display intrinsic resistance to tetracycline, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Acquired (as opposed to inherent) resistance has proliferated in many pathogenic organisms and greatly eroded the versatility of Tetracycline derivatives. Resistance amongst StaphylococcusStreptococcusNeisseria gonorrhoeae, and members of the Enterobacteriaceae is now quite common. Tetracyclines show activity against protozoan parasites as well.


    Cancer Applications

    Tetracycline derivatives induce apoptosis in osteoclasts, Jurkat T lymphocyte cells and in cultured monocytes and macrophages. It is a compound that has been shown to induce apoptosis in various cells.

    Tetracyclines and chemically modified tetracyclines, like Col-3, inhibit the activity of several matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that are important enzymes in tumor cell invasion and metastatic ability.

    Eukaryotic Cell Culture Applications

    Tetracycline is routinely used to select for cells containing resistance plasmids in cell lines such as HeLa at an effective concentration of 1µg/mL.

    Tetracycline is used to study transcriptional activation. Knowledge of tetracycline led to the development of a popular inducible expression system in eukaryotic cells known as Tet-Off and Tet-On. This system has the advantages of being a conditional system that is both reversible and tightly controlled with a lower incidence of leaky (background) expression compared to other inducible systems. Tet-Off systems are also used in generating transgenic mice, which conditionally express a gene of interest. Since the 19bp TetO sequence is naturally absent from mammalian cells, pleiotropy is minimized compared to hormonal control used by other inducible expression systems. Today there are several popular systems including Tet-off, Tet-on and Tet autoregulatory systems which help to minimize leaky background in uninduced cells. When using the Tet system in mammalian cell culture, it is important to either use animal-free media or to test each batch of fetal bovine serum (FBS) to confirm that contaminating tetracyclines are absent or are too low to interfere with induction. Doxycycline (Dox) is a water-soluble tetracycline derivative that is preferred for almost all Tet-controlled gene expression systems. 

    Strandard concentration for cell culture applications is 10mg/L, for additional information on your cell culture needs, please visit our cell-culture database.

    Insect Biology Applications

    Tetracyclines have applications in the treatment of insects of commercial value; e.g., oxytetracycline is used to treat foulbrood disease of the honeybee, which is caused by either Bacillus larvae or Streptococcus pluton.

    Microbiology Applications

    Tetracycline is routinely used as a selective agent to select for bacterial cells that have been transformed with a plasmid that contains the tetracycline resistance gene, tet. Tetracycline is typically used at 10 µg/mL.

    Tetracycline has several clinical uses in treating bacterial infections such as Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick fevers, typhus fever, Brill-Zinsser disease as well as to treat upper respiratory infections and acne. It has been used in studies of multidrug resistance and potential side effects including acute pancreatitis.

    It has been recognized for some time that the spectrum of activity of tetracyclines encompasses various protozoan parasites such as P. falciparum, Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia, Leishmania major, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Toxoplasma gondii

    Plant Biology Applications

    Tetracycline has shown to suppress aster yellows disease symptoms on China Aster and Chrysanthemum plants. Tetracyclines are sprayed onto fruit trees and other plants to treat infection by Erwinia amylovora, injected into palm trees to treat mycoplasma infections (lethal yellow), and used to control infection of seeds by Xanthomonas campestris (black rot). Multiple applications of tetracycline resulted in symptomless plant growth.





    Yellow crystalline powder




    88.0% - 102.0% (on dried basis)

    Loss on Drying

    Not more than 13.0%

    Heavy Metals

    Not more than 50 ppm



    Chopra, Ian, and Marilyn Roberts. "Tetracycline Antibiotics: Mode of Action, Applications, Molecular Biology, and Epidemiology of Bacterial Resistance." Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews (2001): 232-60. Http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Web. 21 Aug. 2012.

    Davis R.E. and Whitcomb, 1970, R.F. Evidence on Possible Mycoplasma Etiology of Aster Yellows Disease. Infection and Immunity, Aug. 1970, p. 201-208

    Green and Sambrook. Molecular Cloning, A Laboratory Manual (2012). 

    Backman K, Boyer HW. Tetracycline resistance in Esherichia coli is mediated by one polypeptide. Gene 26: 197-203. (1983). 

    Gatz, C. Novel inducible/repressible gene expression systems. Methods Cell Biol. 50: 411-424. (1995)

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