Small RNA-mediated Cry toxin silencing allows Bacillus thuringiensis to evade Caenorhabditis elegans avoidance behavioral defenses.
ABSTRACT: Pathogen avoidance behavior protects animal hosts against microbial pathogens. Pathogens have evolved specific strategies during coevolution in response to such host defenses. However, these strategies for combatting host avoidance behavioral defenses remain poorly understood. Here, we used Caenorhabditis elegans and its bacterial pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis as a model and determined that small RNA (sRNA)-mediated Cry toxin silencing allowed pathogens to evade host avoidance behavioral defenses. The B. thuringiensis strain YBT-1518, which encodes three nematicidal cry genes, is highly toxic to C. elegans. However, the expression of the most potent toxin, Cry5Ba, was silenced in this strain when YBT-1518 was outside the host. Cry5Ba silencing was due to the sRNA BtsR1, which bound to the RBS site of the cry5Ba transcript via direct base pairing and inhibited Cry5Ba expression. Upon ingestion by C. elegans, Cry5Ba was expressed in vivo by strain YBT-1518. Cry5Ba silencing may allow B. thuringiensis to avoid nematode behavioral defenses and then express toxins once ingested to kill the host and gain a survival advantage. Our work describes a novel model of sRNA-mediated regulation to aid pathogens in combating host avoidance behavioral defenses.
Project description:Some Bacillus thuringiensis strains have high toxicity to nematodes. Nematicidal activity has been found in several families of crystal proteins, such as Cry5, Cry6, and Cry55. The B. thuringiensis strain YBT-1518 has three cry genes that have high nematicidal activity. The whole genome sequence of this strain contains multiple potential virulence factors. To evaluate the pathogenic potential of virulence factors, we focused on a metalloproteinase called Bmp1. It encompasses a consecutive N-terminal signal peptide, an FTP superfamily domain, an M4 neutral protease GluZincin superfamily, two Big-3 superfamily motifs, and a Gram-positive anchor superfamily motif as a C-terminal domain. Here, we showed that purified Bmp1 protein showed metalloproteinase activity and toxicity against Caenorhabditis elegans (the 50% lethal concentration is 610 ± 9.37 μg/ml). In addition, mixing Cry5Ba with Bmp1 protein enhanced the toxicity 7.9-fold (the expected toxicity of the two proteins calculated from their separate toxicities) against C. elegans. Confocal microscopic observation revealed that Bmp1 protein was detected from around the mouth and esophagus to the intestine. Striking microscopic images revealed that Bmp1 degrades intestine tissues, and the Cry5Ba causes intestinal shrinkage from the body wall. Thus, the B. thuringiensis Bmp1 metalloproteinase is a nematicidal virulence factor. These findings give a new insight into the relationship between B. thuringiensis and its host nematodes.
Project description:We have developed a strategy for isolating cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis. The key steps are the construction of a DNA library in an acrystalliferous B. thuringiensis host strain and screening for the formation of crystal through optical microscopy observation and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analyses. By this method, three cry genes--cry55Aa1, cry6Aa2, and cry5Ba2--were cloned from rice-shaped crystals, producing B. thuringiensis YBT-1518, which consists of 54- and 45-kDa crystal proteins. cry55Aa1 encoded a 45-kDa protein, cry6Aa2 encoded a 54-kDa protein, and cry5Ba2 remained cryptic in strain YBT-1518, as shown by SDS-PAGE or microscopic observation. Proteins encoded by these three genes are all toxic to the root knot nematode Meloidogyne hapla. The two genes cry55Aa1 and cry6Aa2 were found to be located on a plasmid with a rather small size of 17.7 kb, designated pBMB0228.
Project description:The crystal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis are widely used for their specific toxicity against insects and nematodes. The highly conserved sequence blocks play an important role in Cry protein stability and flexibility, the basis of toxicity. The block 3 in Cry5Ba subfamily has a shorter sequence (only 12 residues) and more asparagine residues than that of others which harbor about 48 residues but only one asparagine. Based on the theoretical structure model of Cry5Ba, all three asparagines in block 3 are closely located in the interface of putative three domains, implying their probable importance in structure and function. In this study, all three asparagines in Cry5Ba2 block 3 were individually substituted with alanine by site-directed mutagenesis. The wild-type and mutant proteins were overexpressed and crystallized in acrystalliferous B. thuringiensis strain BMB171. However, the crystals formed in one of the mutants, designated N586A, abnormally disappeared and dissolved into the culture supernatant once the sporulation cells lysed, whereas the Cry5Ba crystal and the other mutant crystals were stable. The mutant N586A crystal, isolated from sporulation cells by the ultrasonic process, was found to be easily dissolved at wide range of pH value (5.0 to 10.0). Moreover, the toxicity assays showed that the mutant N586A exhibited nearly 9-fold-higher activity against nematodes and damaged the host's intestine more efficiently than the native Cry5Ba2. These data support the presumption that the amide residue Asn586 at the interface of domains might adversely affect the protein flexibility, solubility and resultant toxicity of Cry5Ba.
Project description:Despite the successful application of crystal proteins (Cry) from Bacillus thuringiensis as biological control agents against insects, there is an increasing demand to identify new Cry toxins having higher toxicity and broad-spectrum activity against insects and plant-parasitic nematodes. To find novel Cry toxins, we screened 100 whole-genome sequences of B. thuringiensis Surprisingly, in addition to full Cry toxins, we found partial sequences, such as typical N-terminal or C-terminal regions with conserved domains, widely distributed among 20 strains of B. thuringiensis In order to further elucidate the functions of partial genes, here, we selected a partial sequence from strain C15, having 28% similarity with the N terminus of Cry5Ba and lacking a typical C terminus, and denoted it Cry5B-like N terminus. This fragment when coexpressed as a fusion protein with the C terminus of Cry5Ba (N-C fusion protein) produces pyramidal crystals. A recombinant N-C fusion protein having a 50% lethal concentration (LC50) of 23.7 ?g/ml severely affected the life span, growth, and survival rate of nematodes. Light microscopy showed damage to the intestine of nematodes, confirming the pathogenicity of the N-C fusion protein. Last, the green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled mutant Caenorhabditis elegans FT63 showed significant damage to the intestine upon feeding N-C fusion toxin compared to the control. These results imply that partial genes can be a source of new Cry toxins, and further understanding about functions of partial cry genes can help in the study of the evolutionary strategy of B. thuringiensis to produce the multidomain toxins.IMPORTANCE Genomic analysis revealed that coding sequences for N termini and C termini of crystal proteins are widely distributed in B. thuringiensis We found Cry5B-like N terminus, lacking typical C terminus, was unable to be expressed in wild-type strain C15. However, its fusion with the C terminus of Cry5Ba not only was successfully expressed but also exhibited activity against the nematodes. This study provides insight into a potential source for novel Cry toxins.
Project description:Plant-parasitic nematodes are the most destructive group of plant pathogens worldwide and are extremely challenging to control. Some Bacillus thuringiensis crystal proteins are highly toxic to the plant-parasitic nematode Meloidogyne incognita. In this study, the nematicidal crystal proteins Cry6Aa, Cry5Ba and Cry55Aa were tested against M. incognita to select the best toxin combination for its management. The results showed that a combination of Cry6Aa and Cry55Aa showed significant synergistic toxicity against M. incognita, and the highest synergistic effect (five times the expected toxicity of the two toxins calculated from their separate toxicities) was observed when they were combined in a 1:1 ratio. Furthermore, ligand blot analyses of the interaction between total proteins of M. incognita and the three toxins showed many different signal bands, indicating that there is a range of host proteins with which the toxins can interact. One explanation of the observed synergism is that the toxins damage the host in diverse ways, and they may thus act cooperatively and thereby show greater toxicity in combination. Our discovery provides an effective strategy for controlling M. incognita by using a combination of Cry6Aa and Cry55Aa.
Project description:Bacterial pathogens must overcome host sequestration of zinc (Zn(2+) ), an essential micronutrient, during the infectious disease process. While the mechanisms to acquire chelated Zn(2+) by bacteria are largely undefined, many pathogens rely upon the ZnuABC family of ABC transporters. Here we show that in Yersinia pestis, irp2, a gene encoding the synthetase (HMWP2) for the siderophore yersiniabactin (Ybt) is required for growth under Zn(2+) -deficient conditions in a strain lacking ZnuABC. Moreover, growth stimulation with exogenous, purified apo-Ybt provides evidence that Ybt may serve as a zincophore for Zn(2+) acquisition. Studies with the Zn(2+) -dependent transcriptional reporter znuA::lacZ indicate that the ability to synthesize Ybt affects the levels of intracellular Zn(2+) . However, the outer membrane receptor Psn and TonB as well as the inner membrane (IM) ABC transporter YbtPQ, which are required for Fe(3+) acquisition by Ybt, are not needed for Ybt-dependent Zn(2+) uptake. In contrast, the predicted IM protein YbtX, a member of the Major Facilitator Superfamily, was essential for Ybt-dependent Zn(2+) uptake. Finally, we show that the ZnuABC system and the Ybt synthetase HMWP2, presumably by Ybt synthesis, both contribute to the development of a lethal infection in a septicaemic plague mouse model.
Project description:Crystals in Bacillus thuringiensis are usually formed in the mother cell compartment during sporulation and are separated from the spores after mother cell lysis. In a few strains, crystals are produced inside the exosporium and are associated with the spores after sporulation. This special phenotype, named 'spore crystal association' (SCA), typically occurs in B. thuringiensis subsp. finitimus. Our aim was to identify genes determining the SCA phenotype in B. thuringiensis subsp. finitimus strain YBT-020. Plasmid conjugation experiments indicated that the SCA phenotype in this strain was tightly linked with two large plasmids (pBMB26 and pBMB28). A shuttle bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library of strain YBT-020 was constructed. Six fragments from BAC clones were screened from this library and discovered to cover the full length of pBMB26; four others were found to cover pBMB28. Using fragment complementation testing, two fragments, each of approximately 35 kb and located on pBMB26 and pBMB28, were observed to recover the SCA phenotype in an acrystalliferous mutant, B. thuringiensis strain BMB171. Furthermore, deletion analysis indicated that the crystal protein gene cry26Aa from pBMB26, along with five genes from pBMB28, were indispensable to the SCA phenotype. Gene disruption and frame-shift mutation analyses revealed that two of the five genes from pBMB28, which showed low similarity to crystal proteins, determined the location of crystals inside the exosporium. Gene disruption revealed that the three remaining genes, similar to spore germination genes, contributed to the stability of the SCA phenotype in strain YBT-020. Our results thus identified the genes determining the SCA phenotype in B. thuringiensis subsp. finitimus.
Project description:Bacillus thuringiensis is an insect pathogen which has been widely used for biocontrol. During B. thuringiensis fermentation, lysogenic bacteriophages cause severe losses of yield. Here, we announce the complete genome sequence of a bacteriophage, BMBtp2, which is induced from B. thuringiensis strain YBT-1765, which may be helpful to clarify the mechanism involved in bacteriophage contamination.