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Multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria represent a major medical challenge worldwide. New antibiotics are desperately required with ‘old’ polymyxins often being the only available therapeutic option. Here, we systematically investigated the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of polymyxins using a quantitative lipidomics-informed outer membrane (OM) model ofAcinetobacter baumanniiand a series of chemically synthesized polymyxin analogs. By integrating chemical biology and all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, we deciphered how each residue of the polymyxin molecule modulated its conformational folding and specific interactions with the bacterial OM. Importantly, a novel designed polymyxin analog FADDI-287 with predicted stronger OM penetration showed improvedin vitroantibacterial activity. Collectively, our study provides a novel chemical biology and computational strategy to expedite the discovery of new-generation polymyxins against life-threatening Gram-negative ‘superbugs’.
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