Epistasis confers resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in the cotton bollworm.
ABSTRACT: Evolution of resistance by insect pests reduces the benefits of extensively cultivated transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Previous work showed that resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac, which is produced by transgenic cotton, can be conferred by mutations disrupting a cadherin protein that binds this Bt toxin in the larval midgut. However, the potential for epistatic interactions between the cadherin gene and other genes has received little attention. Here, we report evidence of epistasis conferring resistance to Cry1Ac in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, one of the world's most devastating crop pests. Resistance to Cry1Ac in strain LF256 originated from a field-captured male and was autosomal, recessive, and 220-fold relative to susceptible strain SCD. We conducted complementation tests for allelism by crossing LF256 with a strain in which resistance to Cry1Ac is conferred by a recessive allele at the cadherin locus HaCad. The resulting F1 offspring were resistant, suggesting that resistance to Cry1Ac in LF256 is also conferred by resistance alleles at this locus. However, the HaCad amino acid sequence in LF256 lacked insertions and deletions, and did not differ consistently between LF256 and a susceptible strain. In addition, most of the cadherin alleles in LF256 were not derived from the field-captured male. Moreover, Cry1Ac resistance was not genetically linked with the HaCad locus in LF256. Furthermore, LF256 and the susceptible strain were similar in levels of HaCad transcript, cadherin protein, and binding of Cry1Ac to cadherin. Overall, the results imply that epistasis between HaCad and an unknown second locus in LF256 yielded the observed resistance in the F1 progeny from the complementation test. The observed epistasis has important implications for interpreting results of the F1 screen used widely to monitor and analyze resistance, as well as the potential to accelerate evolution of resistance.
Project description:Genetically engineered cotton and corn plants producing insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins kill some key insect pests. Yet, evolution of resistance by pests threatens long-term insect control by these transgenic Bt crops. We compared the genetic basis of resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in two independently derived, laboratory-selected strains of a major cotton pest, the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella [Saunders]). The Arizona pooled resistant strain (AZP-R) was started with pink bollworm from 10 field populations and selected with Cry1Ac in diet. The Bt4R resistant strain was started with a long-term susceptible laboratory strain and selected first with Bt cotton bolls and later with Cry1Ac in diet. Previous work showed that AZP-R had three recessive mutations (r1, r2, and r3) in the pink bollworm cadherin gene (PgCad1) linked with resistance to Cry1Ac and Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Here we report that inheritance of resistance to a diagnostic concentration of Cry1Ac was recessive in Bt4R. In interstrain complementation tests for allelism, F(1) progeny from crosses between AZP-R and Bt4R were resistant to Cry1Ac, indicating a shared resistance locus in the two strains. Molecular analysis of the Bt4R cadherin gene identified a novel 15-bp deletion (r4) predicted to cause the loss of five amino acids upstream of the Cry1Ac-binding region of the cadherin protein. Four recessive mutations in PgCad1 are now implicated in resistance in five different strains, showing that mutations in cadherin are the primary mechanism of resistance to Cry1Ac in laboratory-selected strains of pink bollworm from Arizona.
Project description:Alteration of binding sites for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins in insect midgut is the major mechanism of high-level resistance to Bt toxins in insects. The midgut cadherin is known to be a major binding protein for Bt Cry1A toxins and linkage of Bt-resistance to cadherin gene mutations has been identified in lepidopterans. The resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac evolved in greenhouse populations of Trichoplusia ni has been identified to be associated with the down-regulation of an aminopeptidase N (APN1) gene by a trans-regulatory mechanism and the resistance gene has been mapped to the locus of an ABC transporter (ABCC2) gene. However, whether cadherin is also involved with Cry1Ac-resistance in T. ni requires to be understood. Here we report that the Cry1Ac-resistance in T. ni is independent of alteration of the cadherin. The T. ni cadherin cDNA was cloned and the cadherin sequence showed characteristic features known to cadherins from Lepidoptera. Various T. ni cadherin gene alleles were identified and genetic linkage analysis of the cadherin alleles with Cry1Ac-resistance showed no association of the cadherin gene with the Cry1Ac-resistance in T. ni. Analysis of cadherin transcripts showed no quantitative difference between the susceptible and Cry1Ac-resistant T. ni larvae. Quantitative proteomic analysis of midgut BBMV proteins by iTRAQ-2D-LC-MS/MS determined that there was no quantitative difference in cadherin content between the susceptible and the resistant larvae and the cadherin only accounted for 0.0014% (mol%) of the midgut BBMV proteins, which is 1/300 of APN1 in molar ratio. The cadherin from both the susceptible and resistant larvae showed as a 200-kDa Cry1Ac-binding protein by toxin overlay binding analysis, and nano-LC-MS/MS analysis of the 200-kDa cadherin determined that there is no quantitative difference between the susceptible and resistant larvae. Results from this study indicate that the Cry1Ac-resistance in T. ni is independent of cadherin alteration.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins kill key insect pests, providing economic and environmental benefits. However, the evolution of pest resistance threatens the continued success of such Bt crops. To delay or counter resistance, transgenic plant "pyramids" producing two or more Bt proteins that kill the same pest have been adopted extensively. Field populations of the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) in the United States have remained susceptible to Bt toxins Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab, but field-evolved practical resistance to Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has occurred widely in India. Here we used two rounds of laboratory selection to achieve 18,000- to 150,000-fold resistance to Cry2Ab in pink bollworm. Inheritance of resistance to Cry2Ab was recessive, autosomal, conferred primarily by one locus, and independent of Cry1Ac resistance. We created a strain with high resistance to both toxins by crossing the Cry2Ab-resistant strain with a Cry1Ac-resistant strain, followed by one selection with Cry2Ab. This multi-toxin resistant strain survived on field-collected Bt cotton bolls producing both toxins. The results here demonstrate the risk of evolution of resistance to pyramided Bt plants, particularly when toxins are deployed sequentially and refuges are scarce, as seen with Bt cotton and pink bollworm in India.
Project description:The resistance to the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin Cry2Ab in a greenhouse-originated Trichoplusia ni strain resistant to both Bt toxins Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab was characterized. Biological assays determined that the Cry2Ab resistance in the T. ni strain was a monogenic recessive trait independent of Cry1Ac resistance, and there existed no significant cross-resistance between Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab in T. ni. From the dual-toxin-resistant T. ni strain, a strain resistant to Cry2Ab only was isolated, and the Cry2Ab resistance trait was introgressed into a susceptible laboratory strain to facilitate comparative analysis of the Cry2Ab resistance with the susceptible T. ni strain. Results from biochemical analysis showed no significant difference between the Cry2Ab-resistant and -susceptible T. ni larvae in midgut proteases, including caseinolytic proteolytic activity and zymogram profile and serine protease activities, in midgut aminopeptidase and alkaline phosphatase activity, and in midgut esterases and hemolymph plasma melanization activity. For analysis of genetic linkage of Cry2Ab resistance with potential Cry toxin receptor genes, molecular markers for the midgut cadherin, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and aminopeptidase N (APN) genes were identified between the original greenhouse-derived dual-toxin-resistant and the susceptible laboratory T. ni strains. Genetic linkage analysis showed that the Cry2Ab resistance in T. ni was not genetically associated with the midgut genes coding for the cadherin, ALP, and 6 APNs (APN1 to APN6) nor associated with the ABC transporter gene ABCC2. Therefore, the Cry2Ab resistance in T. ni is conferred by a novel but unknown genetic mechanism.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by pests reduces the benefits of transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Here we analyzed resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac in a field-derived strain of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), a global pest of cotton. We discovered that the r14 allele of the pink bollworm cadherin gene (PgCad1) has a 234-bp insertion in exon 12 encoding a mutant PgCad1 protein that lacks 36 amino acids in cadherin repeat 5 (CR5). A strain homozygous for this allele had 237-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, 1.8-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and developed from neonate to adult on Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Inheritance of resistance to Cry1Ac was recessive and tightly linked with r14. PgCad1 transcript abundance in midgut tissues did not differ between resistant and susceptible larvae. Toxicity of Cry1Ac to transformed insect cells was lower for cells expressing r14 than for cells expressing wild-type PgCad1. Wild-type PgCad1 was transported to the cell membrane, whereas PgCad1 produced by r14 was not. In larval midgut tissue, PgCad1 protein occurred primarily on the brush border membrane only in susceptible larvae. The results imply r14 mediates pink bollworm resistance to Cry1Ac by reduced translation, increased degradation, and/or mislocalization of cadherin.
Project description:Insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are widely used to control insect pests, but their efficacy is reduced when pests evolve resistance. We report on a novel allele (r16) of the cadherin gene (PgCad1) in pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) associated with resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac, which is produced by transgenic cotton. The r16 allele isolated from a field population in China has 1545 base pairs of a degenerate transposon inserted in exon 20 of PgCad1, which generates a mis-spliced transcript containing a premature stop codon. A strain homozygous for r16 had 300-fold resistance to Cry1Ac, 2.6-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab, and completed its life cycle on transgenic Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac. Inheritance of Cry1Ac resistance was recessive and tightly linked with r16. Compared with transfected insect cells expressing wild-type PgCad1, cells expressing r16 were less susceptible to Cry1Ac. Recombinant cadherin protein was transported to the cell membrane in cells transfected with the wild-type PgCad1 allele, but not in cells transfected with r16. Cadherin occurred on brush border membrane vesicles (BBMVs) in the midgut of susceptible larvae, but not resistant larvae. These results imply that the r16 allele mediates Cry1Ac resistance in pink bollworm by interfering with the localization of cadherin.
Project description:Evolution of resistance by insects threatens the continued success of pest control using insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in sprays and transgenic plants. In this study, laboratory selection with Cry1Ac yielded five strains of cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, with resistance ratios at the median lethal concentration (LC50) of activated Cry1Ac ranging from 22 to 1700. Reduced activity and reduced transcription of an alkaline phosphatase protein that binds Cry1Ac was associated with resistance to Cry1Ac in the four most resistant strains. A Cry1Ac-binding fragment of alkaline phosphatase from H. armigera (HaALP1f) was not toxic by itself, but it increased mortality caused by Cry1Ac in a susceptible strain and in all five resistant strains. Although synergism of Bt toxins against susceptible insects by toxin-binding fragments of cadherin and aminopeptidase N has been reported previously, the results here provide the first evidence of synergism of a Bt toxin by a toxin-binding fragment of alkaline phosphatase. The results here also provide the first evidence of synergism of a Bt toxin by any toxin-binding peptide against resistant insects.
Project description:Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins have been planted widely to control insect pests, yet evolution of resistance by the pests can reduce the benefits of this approach. Recessive mutations in the extracellular domain of toxin-binding cadherin proteins that confer resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac by disrupting toxin binding have been reported previously in three major lepidopteran pests, including the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. Here we report a novel allele from cotton bollworm with a deletion in the intracellular domain of cadherin that is genetically linked with non-recessive resistance to Cry1Ac. We discovered this allele in each of three field-selected populations we screened from northern China where Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has been grown intensively. We expressed four types of cadherin alleles in heterologous cell cultures: susceptible, resistant with the intracellular domain mutation, and two complementary chimeric alleles with and without the mutation. Cells transfected with each of the four cadherin alleles bound Cry1Ac and were killed by Cry1Ac. However, relative to cells transfected with either the susceptible allele or the chimeric allele lacking the intracellular domain mutation, cells transfected with the resistant allele or the chimeric allele containing the intracellular domain mutation were less susceptible to Cry1Ac. These results suggest that the intracellular domain of cadherin is involved in post-binding events that affect toxicity of Cry1Ac. This evidence is consistent with the vital role of the intracellular region of cadherin proposed by the cell signaling model of the mode of action of Bt toxins. Considered together with previously reported data, the results suggest that both pore formation and cell signaling pathways contribute to the efficacy of Bt toxins.
Project description:Insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are used extensively in sprays and transgenic crops for pest control, but their efficacy is reduced when pests evolve resistance. Better understanding of the mode of action of Bt toxins and the mechanisms of insect resistance is needed to enhance the durability of these important alternatives to conventional insecticides. Mode of action models agree that binding of Bt toxins to midgut proteins such as cadherin is essential for toxicity, but some details remain unresolved, such as the role of toxin oligomers. In this study, we evaluated how Bt toxin Cry1Ac and its genetically engineered counterpart Cry1AcMod interact with brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) from resistant and susceptible larvae of Pectinophora gossypiella (pink bollworm), a global pest of cotton. Compared with Cry1Ac, Cry1AcMod lacks 56 amino acids at the amino-terminus including helix ?-1; previous work showed that Cry1AcMod formed oligomers in vitro without cadherin and killed P. gossypiella larvae harboring cadherin mutations linked with >1000-fold resistance to Cry1Ac. Here we found that resistance to Cry1Ac was associated with reduced oligomer formation and insertion. In contrast, Cry1AcMod formed oligomers in BBMV from resistant larvae. These results confirm the role of cadherin in oligomerization of Cry1Ac in susceptible larvae and imply that forming oligomers without cadherin promotes toxicity of Cry1AcMod against resistant P. gossypiella larvae that have cadherin mutations.
Project description:Development of resistance in target pests is a major threat to long-term use of transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cry toxins. To manage and/or delay the evolution of resistance in target insects through the implementation of effective strategies, it is essential to understand the basis of resistance. One of the most important mechanisms of insect resistance to Bt crops is the alteration of the interactions between Cry toxins and their receptors in the midgut. A Cry1Ac-selected strain of Asian corn borer (ACB), Ostrinia furnacalis, a key pest of maize in China, evolved three mutant alleles of a cadherin-like protein (OfCAD) (MPR-r1, MPR-r2 and MPR-r3), which mapped within the toxin-binding region (TBR). Each of the three mutant alleles possessed two or three amino acid substitutions in this region, especially Thr1457?Ser. In highly resistant larvae (ACB-Ac200), MPR-r2 had a 26-amino acid residue deletion in the TBR, which resulted in reduced binding of Cry1Ac compared to the MPR from the susceptible strain, suggesting that the number of amino acid deletions influences the level of resistance. Furthermore, downregulation of OfCAD gene (ofcad) transcription was observed in the Cry1Ac resistant strain, ACB-Ac24, suggesting that Cry1Ac resistance in ACB is associated with the downregulation of the transcript levels of the cadherin-like protein gene. The OfCAD identified from ACB exhibited a high degree of similarity to other members of the cadherin super-family in lepidopteran species.