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Eur J Biochem. 1988 Apr 5;173(1):9-16.

Common features of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins specific for Diptera and Lepidoptera.

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1
Plant Genetic Systems, Gent, Belgium.

Abstract

The complete nucleotide sequence of a cloned gene encoding a 130-kDa crystal protein of Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) subspecies israelensis has been determined. The recombinant protein (Bt8) was purified and shown to be a mosquito-specific toxin with a LC50 value of 43 ng/ml to third-instar larvae of Aedes aegypti. Bt8 is processed by proteases or midgut extracts of mosquito larvae into toxic fragments of 68-78 kDa. Deletion mapping indicated that the active fragment of Bt8 is localized in the N-terminal half of the protoxin molecule. The deduced amino acid sequence of Bt8 has been compared with that of Bt2, a Lepidoptera-specific toxin, previously cloned from Bacillus thuringiensis berliner. Highly homologous amino acid stretches are present in the C-terminal half of the proteins. The N-terminal parts show much less sequence homology but they display a strikingly similar distribution of hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids. In addition, Bt8 and Bt2 show a significant immunological cross-reaction. The data indicate that although these B.t. delta endotoxins exhibit a different insect-host specificity, they are structurally related and might use a similar mechanism to interact with insect cell membranes.

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