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  1. In nature, proteins that switch between two conformations in response to environmental stimuli structurally transduce biochemical information in a manner analogous to how transistors control information flow in computing devices. Designing proteins with two distinct but fully structured conformations is a challenge for protein design as it requires sculpting an energy landscape with two distinct minima. Here we describe the design of “hinge” proteins that populate one designed state in the absence of ligand and a second designed state in the presence of ligand. X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, double electron-electron resonance spectroscopy, and binding measurements demonstrate that despite the significant structural differences the two states are designed with atomic level accuracy and that the conformational and binding equilibria are closely coupled.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 18, 2024
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  3. Abstract

    The emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance highlights the urgent need for new antibiotics. Organoarsenicals have been used as antimicrobials since Paul Ehrlich’s salvarsan. Recently a soil bacterium was shown to produce the organoarsenical arsinothricin. We demonstrate that arsinothricin, a non-proteinogenic analog of glutamate that inhibits glutamine synthetase, is an effective broad-spectrum antibiotic against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, suggesting that bacteria have evolved the ability to utilize the pervasive environmental toxic metalloid arsenic to produce a potent antimicrobial. With every new antibiotic, resistance inevitably arises. ThearsN1gene, widely distributed in bacterial arsenic resistance (ars) operons, selectively confers resistance to arsinothricin by acetylation of the α-amino group. Crystal structures of ArsN1N-acetyltransferase, with or without arsinothricin, shed light on the mechanism of its substrate selectivity. These findings have the potential for development of a new class of organoarsenical antimicrobials and ArsN1 inhibitors.

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