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J Biol Chem. 1985 May 25;260(10):6273-80.

Delineation of a toxin-encoding segment of a Bacillus thuringiensis crystal protein gene.


Crystals of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD-1-Dipel contain a Mr 134,000 protoxin which can be cleaved by proteolysis to a peptide of Mr approximately 70,000; this peptide is lethal to lepidopteran larvae. We have analyzed the peptides produced by recombinant Escherichia coli strains bearing deletions and fusions of the protoxin gene in order to delineate the portion of the gene which encodes the toxic peptide. The recombinant strains produced the toxic peptide as well as larger peptides whose size was related to the length of the deleted gene. The results indicate that the amino-terminal 55% of the protoxin protein is sufficient for toxicity. While two different gene fusions to the 10th codon allowed the synthesis of toxic polypeptides, fusions to the 50th codon did not. 3' end deletions up to the 645th codon allowed synthesis of the toxic peptide whereas a deletion to the 603rd codon yielded a non-toxic peptide. Some of the 5' and 3' end alterations to the gene caused changes in the proteolytic cleavage patterns of the polypeptides synthesized by E. coli, suggesting that the alterations led to conformational changes in the proteins. The presence of different 3' end segments affected the levels of synthesis of the altered crystal proteins.

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