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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.

SUBMITTER: Peng D 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5758910 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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