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FEBS Lett. 1984 Mar 26;168(2):197-202.

Lectin-like binding of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki lepidopteran-specific toxin is an initial step in insecticidal action.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 IQW, England.


The two delta-endotoxins comprising the Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki HD1 insecticidal protein crystal were separated. The lepidopteran-specific protoxin was activated in vitro and its mechanism of action investigated. Toxicity towards Choristoneura fumiferana CF1 cells was specifically inhibited by preincubation of the toxin with N-acetylgalactosamine and N-acetylneuraminic acid. The lectins soybean agglutinin and wheat germ agglutinin, which bind N-acetylgalactosamine, also inhibited toxicity. Since N-acetylneuraminic acid is not known to occur in insects, these results suggest that the toxin may recognise a specific plasma membrane glycoconjugate receptor with a terminal N-acetylgalactosamine residue.

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