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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Aug;58(8):2536-42.

Novel Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal protein with a silent activity against coleopteran larvae.

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Plant Genetic Systems N.V., Ghent, Belgium.


A novel Bacillus thuringiensis crystal protein with a silent activity against the Colorado potato beetle is described. The crystal proteins are produced as bipyramidal crystals. These crystals contain a protein of 129 kDa with a trypsin-resistant core fragment of 72 kDa. Neither a spore-crystal mixture nor in vitro-solubilized crystals are toxic to any of several Lepidoptera and Coleoptera species tested. In contrast, a trypsin-treated solution containing the 72-kDa tryptic core fragment of the protoxin is highly toxic to Colorado potato beetle larvae. The crystal protein-encoding gene was cloned and sequenced. The inferred amino acid sequence of the putative toxic fragment has 37, 32, and 33% homology to the CryIIIA, CryIIIB, and CryIIID toxins, respectively. Interestingly, the 501 C-terminal amino acids show 41 to 48% amino acid identity with corresponding C-terminal amino acid sequences of other crystal proteins. Because of the toxicity of the fragment to the Colorado potato beetle and because of the distinct similarities of the toxic fragment with the other CryIII proteins, this gene was given a new subclass name (cryIIIC) within the CryIII class of coleopteran-active crystal proteins. CryIIIC represents the first example of a crystal protein with a silent activity towards coleopteran insect larvae. Natural CryIIIC crystals are not toxic. Toxicity is revealed only after an in vitro solubilization and activation step.

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