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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Dec;14(5):851-60.

Specificity domain localization of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal toxins is highly dependent on the bioassay system.

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Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, Montreal, Quebec.


The Bacillus thuringiensis crylA(a) and crylA(c) gene specificity regions were probed by creating and testing hybrid toxins both in vivo and in vitro against cultured insect cells or dissociated midgut epithelial cells. Toxin threshold dose determinations revealed that CrylA(c) is highly active against cultured Choristoneura fumiferana cells (CF-1) whereas CrylA(a) is nontoxic. In live insect bioassays, a reversed order of toxicity was observed. Hybrid analysis revealed that the CrylA(c) toxicity-determining region is located between codons 258 and 510. Two smaller subsections of this region (residues 258-358 and 450-510) were able to confer toxicity, although at lower levels, and one region (358-450) was present where progressive substitutions of crylA(a) with crylA(c) sequences had no effect. Exchanging the non-homologous N-terminal regions of CrylA(c) with CrylE suggested that the N-terminus does not play a role in specificity. One hybrid clone, MP80, displays a 99.3% homology to CrylA(b) but shows an 800-fold increase in toxicity to CF-1 cells relative to that shown by CrylA(b). Direct comparison between live Bombyx mori bioassays and a newly developed in vitro lawn assay using dissociated midgut epithelial cells from the same insect revealed striking differences in toxicity. The toxicity-determining region for B. mori larvae was determined to be between codons 283 and 450, although the 450-620 codon region may exert an influence on toxicity. In general, native or hybrid toxins showing little or no insect intoxication were very active against the epithelial cells, suggesting that factors other than toxin amino acid sequence play an important role in determining toxin specificity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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