Argyrins, produced by myxobacteria and actinomycetes, are cyclic octapeptides with antibacterial and antitumor activity. Here, we identify elongation factor G (EF-G) as the cellular target of argyrin B in bacteria, via resistant mutant selection and whole genome sequencing, biophysical binding studies and crystallography. Argyrin B binds a novel allosteric pocket in EF-G, distinct from the known EF-G inhibitor antibiotic fusidic acid, revealing a new mode of protein synthesis inhibition. In eukaryotic cells, argyrin B was found to target mitochondrial elongation factor G1 (EF-G1), the closest homologue of bacterial EF-G. By blocking mitochondrial translation, argyrin B depletes electron transport components and inhibits the growth of yeast and tumor cells. Further supporting direct inhibition of EF-G1, expression of an argyrin B-binding deficient EF-G1 L693Q variant partially rescued argyrin B-sensitivity in tumor cells. In summary, we show that argyrin B is an antibacterial and cytotoxic agent that inhibits the evolutionarily conserved target EF-G, blocking protein synthesis in bacteria and mitochondrial translation in yeast and mammalian cells.
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