Engineering Bacillus thuringiensis Cyt1Aa toxin specificity from dipteran to lepidopteran toxicity.
ABSTRACT: The Cyt and Cry toxins are different pore-forming proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, and used in insect-pests control. Cry-toxins have a complex mechanism involving interaction with several proteins in the insect gut such as aminopeptidase N (APN), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and cadherin (CAD). It was shown that the loop regions of domain II of Cry toxins participate in receptor binding. Cyt-toxins are dipteran specific and interact with membrane lipids. We show that Cry1Ab domain II loop3 is involved in binding to APN, ALP and CAD receptors since point mutation Cry1Ab-G439D affected binding to these proteins. We hypothesized that construction of Cyt1A-hybrid proteins providing a binding site that recognizes gut proteins in lepidopteran larvae could result in improved Cyt1Aa toxin toward lepidopteran larvae. We constructed hybrid Cyt1Aa-loop3 proteins with increased binding interaction to Manduca sexta receptors and increased toxicity against two Lepidopteran pests, M. sexta and Plutella xylostella. The hybrid Cyt1Aa-loop3 proteins were severely affected in mosquitocidal activity and showed partial hemolytic activity but retained their capacity to synergize Cry11Aa toxicity against mosquitos. Our data show that insect specificity of Cyt1Aa toxin can be modified by introduction of loop regions from another non-related toxin with different insect specificity.
Project description:Bacillus thuringiensis Cyt proteins are pore-forming toxins that have insecticidal activity mainly against dipteran insects. However, certain Cyt proteins have toxicity to some insect orders, but not toxicity of Cyt1Aa against lepidopteran larvae has been found. Insect specificity has been proposed to rely in specific binding to certain lipids on the brush border membrane of midgut cells since no protein receptors have been described so far. To determine the molecular basis of Cyt1Aa insect specificity we compared different steps of Cyt1Aa mode of action in a susceptible insect as the dipteran Aedes aegypti and also in the non-susceptible lepidopteran Manduca sexta. Our data shows that the lack toxicity of Cyt1Aa to M. sexta larvae does not rely on protoxin processing, membrane binding interaction, and oligomerization of Cyt1Aa since these steps were similar in the two insect species analyzed.
Project description:The insecticidal Cry toxins are pore-forming toxins produced by the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis that disrupt insect-midgut cells. In this work we analyzed the response of two different insect orders, the Lepidopteran Manduca sexta and Dipteran Aedes aegypti to highly specific Cry toxins, Cry1Ab and Cry11Aa, respectively. One pathway activated in different organisms in response to a variety of pore-forming toxins is the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 pathway (MAPK p38) that activates a complex defense response. We analyzed the MAPK p38 activation by immunodetection of its phosphorylated isoform, and the induction of p38 by RT-PCR, real-time PCR quantitative assays and immunodetection. We show that MAPK p38 is activated at postraductional level after Cry toxin intoxication in both insect orders. We detected the p38 induction at the transcriptional and traductional level, and observed a different response. In these three levels, we found that both insects respond to Cry toxin action but M. sexta responses more strongly than A. aegypti. Gene silencing of MAPK p38 in vivo, resulted in both insect species becoming hypersensitive to Cry toxin action, suggesting that the MAPK p38 pathway is involved in insect defense against Bt Cry toxins. This finding may have biotechnological applications for enhancing the activity of some Bt Cry toxins against specific insect pests.
Project description:The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea (Drury) is a major invasive pest in China. Aminopeptidase N (APN) isoforms in lepidopteran larvae midguts are known for their involvement in the mode of action of insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis. In the present work, we identified a putative Cry1Ab toxin-binding protein, an APN isoform designated HcAPN3, in the midgut of H. cunea by ligand blot and mass spectrometry. HcAPN3 was highly expressed throughout all larval developmental stages and was abundant in the midgut and hindgut tissues. HcAPN3 was down-regulated at 6 h, then was up-regulated significantly at 12 h and 24 h after Cry1Ab toxin treatment. We expressed HcAPN3 in insect cells and detected its interaction with Cry1Ab toxin by ligand blot assays. Furthermore, RNA interference (RNAi) against HcAPN3 using oral delivery and injection of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) resulted in a 61-66% decrease in transcript level. Down-regulating of the expression of HcAPN3 was closely associated with reduced susceptibility of H. cunea to Cry1Ab. In addition, the HcAPN3E fragment peptide expressed in Escherichia coli enhanced Cry1Ab toxicity against H. cunea larvae. This work represents the first evidence to suggest that an APN in H. cunea is a putative binding protein involved in Cry1Ab susceptibility.
Project description:Insect pests are the major cause of damage to commercially important agricultural crops. The continuous application of synthetic pesticides resulted in severe insect resistance by plants. This causes irreversible damage to the environment. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) emerged as a valuable biological alternative in pest control. However, insect resistance against Bt has been reported in many cases. Insects develop resistance to insecticides through mechanisms that reduce the binding of toxins to gut receptors. Nonetheless, the molecular mechanism of insect resistance is not fully understood. Therefore, it is important to study the mechanism of toxin resistance by analyzing amino-peptidase-N (APN) receptor of the insect M. sexta. A homology model of APN was constructed using Insight II molecular modeling software and the model was further evaluated using the PROCHECK program. Oligosaccharides participating in post translational modification were constructed and docked onto specific APN functional sites. Post analyses of the APN model provide insights on the functional properties of APN towards the understanding of receptor and toxin interactions. We also discuss the predicted binding sites for ligands, metals and Bt toxins in M. sexta APN receptor. These data help in the development of a roadmap for the design and synthesis of novel insect resistant Cry toxins.
Project description:Members of the aminopepidase N (APN) gene family of the insect order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) bind the naturally insecticidal Cry toxins produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Phylogenetic analysis of amino acid sequences of seven lepidopteran APN classes provided strong support for the hypothesis that lepidopteran APN2 class arose by gene duplication prior to the most recent common ancestor of Lepidoptera and Diptera. The Cry toxin-binding region (BR) of lepidopteran and dipteran APNs was subject to stronger purifying selection within APN classes than was the remainder of the molecule, reflecting conservation of catalytic site and adjoining residues within the BR. Of lepidopteran APN classes, APN2, APN6, and APN8 showed the strongest evidence of functional specialization, both in expression patterns and in the occurrence of conserved derived amino acid residues. The latter three APN classes also shared a convergently evolved conserved residue close to the catalytic site. APN8 showed a particularly strong tendency towards class-specific conserved residues, including one of the catalytic site residues in the BR and ten others in close vicinity to the catalytic site residues. The occurrence of class-specific sequences along with the conservation of enzymatic function is consistent with the hypothesis that the presence of Cry toxins in the environment has been a factor shaping the evolution of this multi-gene family.
Project description:Aminopeptidase-N (APN1) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) proteins located in the midgut epithelium of Manduca sexta have been implicated as receptors for Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, and Cry1Ac insecticidal proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. In this study, we analyzed the roles of ALP and APN1 in the toxicity of these three Cry1A proteins. Ligand blot analysis using brush border membrane vesicles of M. sexta showed that Cry1Aa and Cry1Ab bind preferentially to ALP during early instars while binding to APN was observed after the third instar of larval development. Cry1Ac binds to APN throughout all larval development, with no apparent binding to ALP. ALP was cloned from M. sexta midgut RNA and expressed in Escherichia coli. Surface plasmon resonance binding analysis showed that recombinant ALP binds to Cry1Ac with 16-fold lower affinity than to Cry1Aa or Cry1Ab. Downregulation of APN1 and ALP expression by RNA interference (RNAi) using specific double-stranded RNA correlated with a reduction of transcript and protein levels. Toxicity analysis of the three Cry1A proteins in ALP- or APN1-silenced larvae showed that Cry1Aa relies similarly on both receptor molecules for toxicity. In contrast, RNAi experiments showed that ALP is more important than APN for Cry1Ab toxicity, while Cry1Ac relied principally on APN1. These results indicated that ALP and APN1 have a differential role in the mode of action of Cry1A toxins, suggesting that B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki produces different Cry1A toxins that in conjunction target diverse midgut proteins to exert their insecticidal effect.
Project description:Bacillus thuringiensis produces insecticidal Cry and Cyt proteins that are toxic to different insect orders. In addition, Cyt toxins also display haemolytic activity. Both toxins are pore-forming proteins that form oligomeric structures that insert into the target membrane to lyse cells. Cyt toxins play an important role in mosquitocidal activity since they synergize Cry toxins and are able to overcome resistance to Cry toxins. Cry and Cyt toxins interact by specific epitopes, and this interaction is important to induce the synergistic activity observed. It was proposed that Cyt toxins do not interact with protein receptors but directly interacting with the specific midgut cell lipids. Here, we analysed if oligomerization and membrane insertion of Cyt1Aa are necessary steps to synergize Cry11Aa toxicity. We characterized Cyt1Aa helix ?-C mutants that were affected in oligomerization, in membrane insertion and also in haemolytic and insecticidal activities. However, these mutants were still able to synergize Cry11Aa toxicity indicating these steps are independent events of Cyt1Aa synergistic activity. Furthermore, the data indicate that formation of stable Cyt1Aa-oligomeric structure is a key step for membrane insertion, haemolysis and insecticidal activity.
Project description:Insecticidal effects of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry toxins in hemocoel of larvae have not been properly evaluated. In the present study, hemocoelic injection of four representative Cry toxins i.e., Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and DOR5 to an economically important lepidopteran insect pest Achaea janata, induced larval mortality, reduced larval growth rate and gave rise to smaller pupae, all in a dose-dependent manner. We observed extensive degeneration as well as the disintegration of larval tissues, most notably, fat body, and the possible involvement of lysosomal enzymes in tissue histolysis. The resultant "hypoproteinemia" and most relevantly, the drastic reduction of 80-85 kDa hexamerin proteins levels of hemolymph could be attributed to the pathological state of the fat body induced by Cry toxin injection. Formation of non-viable larval-pupal intermediates and emergence of defective adults also indicate toxicity effects of Cry toxins during metamorphosis. Thus, findings from our study suggest Cry toxins in larval hemocoel are also toxic to A. janata larval survival and subsequent development.
Project description:Transgenic rice lines expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins have been successfully developed for the control of Chilo suppressalis. However, the evolution of insect resistance is a major threat to Bt rice durability. Bt toxins function by binding specific receptors in the midgut of target insects; specifically, cadherin proteins have been identified as Cry toxin receptors in diverse lepidopteran species. Here, we report the functional roles of cadherin CsCad in the midgut of C. suppressalis in Cry1Ab and Cry1C toxicity. We expressed a recombinant truncated CsCad peptide (CsCad-CR11-MPED) in Escherichia coli that included the eleventh cadherin repeat and MPED region. Based on ligand blotting and ELISA binding assays, the CsCad-CR11-MPED peptide specifically bound Cry1Ab with high affinity but weakly bound Cry1C. The CsCad-CR11-MPED peptide significantly enhanced the susceptibility of C. suppressalis larvae to Cry1Ab but not Cry1C. Furthermore, the knockdown of endogenous CsCad with Stealth siRNA reduced C. suppressalis larval susceptibility to Cry1Ab but not Cry1C, suggesting that CsCad plays differential functional roles in Cry1Ab and Cry1C intoxication in C. suppressalis. This information directly enhances our understanding of the potential resistance mechanisms of C. suppressalis against Bt toxins and may assist in the development of effective strategies for delaying insect resistance.
Project description:Bacillus thuringiensis produces insecticidal proteins named Cry toxins, that are used commercially for the control of economical important insect pests. These are pore-forming toxins that interact with different receptors in the insect gut, forming pores in the apical membrane causing cell burst and insect death. Elucidation of the structure of the membrane-inserted toxin is important to fully understand its mechanism of action. One hypothesis proposed that the hairpin of ?-helices 4-5 of domain I inserts into the phospholipid bilayer, whereas the rest of helices of domain I are spread on the membrane surface in an umbrella-like conformation. However, a second hypothesis proposed that the three domains of the Cry toxin insert into the bilayer without major conformational changes. In this work we constructed single Cys Cry1Ab mutants that remain active against Manduca sexta larvae and labeled them with different fluorescent probes that have different responses to solvent polarity. Different soluble quenchers as well as a membrane-bound quencher were used to compare the properties of the soluble and brush border membrane-inserted forms of Cry1Ab toxin. The fluorescence and quenching analysis presented here, revealed that domains II and III of the toxin remain in the surface of the membrane and only a discrete region of domain I is inserted into the lipid bilayer, supporting the umbrella model of toxin insertion.