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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 May;76(10):3082-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00155-10. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Lepidopteran-active variable-region sequence imparts coleopteran activity in eCry3.1Ab, an engineered Bacillus thuringiensis hybrid insecticidal protein.

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Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc., Durham, NC 27709-2257, USA.


A unique, coleopteran-active protein, termed eCry3.1Ab, was generated following variable-region exchange of a Bacillus thuringiensis lepidopteran-active protein, Cry1Ab, with a Cry3A region. Our results support the hypothesis that this variable-region exchange is responsible for imparting strong bioactivity against the larvae of western corn rootworm (WCR) (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte), a pest species which is not susceptible to either parent protein sequence. This study demonstrates the potential of successfully engineering a portion(s) of a lepidopteran-active B. thuringiensis sequence so that it has activity against coleopterans. Further elucidation of the eCry3.1Ab activity indicated the importance of variable regions 4 to 6 that were derived from Cry1Ab instead of Cry1Ac. There was some flexibility in making domain III of engineered hybrid insecticidal proteins even more Cry1Ab-like and retaining activity, while there was less flexibility in making domain III more Cry3A-like and retaining activity. In vitro binding studies with brush border membrane vesicles demonstrated that there was specific binding of chymotrypsin-processed modified Cry3A (mCry3A), which was not diminished by addition of a 100-fold molar excess of chymotrypsin-processed eCry3.1Ab or unprocessed eCry3.1Ab. In addition, in the converse experiment, specific binding of chymotrypsin-processed eCry3.1Ab was not diminished by the presence of a 75-fold molar excess of chymotrypsin-processed mCry3A. These data support the hypothesis that eCry3.1Ab can interact with different binding sites than the activated form of mCry3A in the WCR brush border and may provide a different mode of action from the standpoint of resistance management.

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