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Peptides. 2009 Mar;30(3):589-95. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2008.07.027. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Strategies to improve the insecticidal activity of Cry toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis.

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Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apdo. Postal 510-3, Cuernavaca 62250, Morelos, Mexico.


Bacillus thuringiensis Cry toxins have been widely used in the control of insect pests either as spray products or expressed in transgenic crops. These proteins are pore-forming toxins with a complex mechanism of action that involves the sequential interaction with several toxin-receptors. Cry toxins are specific against susceptible larvae and although they are often highly effective, some insect pests are not affected by them or show low susceptibility. In addition, the development of resistance threatens their effectiveness, so strategies to cope with all these problems are necessary. In this review we will discuss and compare the different strategies that have been used to improve insecticidal activity of Cry toxins. The activity of Cry toxins can be enhanced by using additional proteins in the bioassay like serine protease inhibitors, chitinases, Cyt toxins, or a fragment of cadherin receptor containing a toxin-binding site. On the other hand, different modifications performed in the toxin gene such as site-directed mutagenesis, introduction of cleavage sites in specific regions of the protein, and deletion of small fragments from the amino-terminal region lead to improved toxicity or overcome resistance, representing interesting alternatives for insect pest control.

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