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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Sep 15;248(3):748-61.

Cloning and characterization of Manduca sexta and Plutella xylostella midgut aminopeptidase N enzymes related to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin-binding proteins.

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Plant Genetic Systems, Gent, Belgium.


We report the purification, cloning and characterization of an aminopeptidase N from the midgut epithelium of Manduca sexta that binds Cry1Ab5, an insecticidal crystal protein [ICP] from Bacillus thuringiensis. Sequence information derived from this M. sexta aminopeptidase N was used for the cloning of an aminopeptidase N from the midgut brush-border membrane of Plutella xylostella, an insect species of which some populations acquired resistance against Cry1Ab5. Affinity chromatography on a Cry1Ab5 matrix was used to isolate a 120-kDa glycoprotein from the larval midgut of the lepidopteran M. sexta. On ligand blots the purified 120-kDa protein discriminates between the lepidopteran-specific Cry1Ab5 and the coleopteran-specific Cry3A delta-endotoxin. Internal amino acid sequences from the 120-kDa protein were used for the design of degenerate oligonucleotides. From a nested PCR with M. sexta midgut cDNA as template, a DNA fragment was obtained which shows similarity to prokaryotic and eukaryotic aminopeptidase N genes. This PCR fragment was used to screen cDNA libraries of larval midguts from M. sexta and P. xylostella. From the M. sexta midgut cDNA library a 2973-bp nucleotide sequence was cloned. The ORF of the sequence encodes a 942-residue aminopeptidase N (M. sexta Apn2) containing two hydrophobic regions. The NH2-terminal hydrophobic region corresponds to a secretory signal sequence and the COOH-terminal hydrophobic region is typical of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (glycosyl-PtdIns)-anchored proteins. Low-stringency hybridization of the P. xylostella midgut cDNA library with M. sexta apn2 probes enabled the isolation of a 3118-bp sequence with an ORF encoding a 946-residue preproprotein. This aminopeptidase N (P. xylostella Apn1) displays 61% amino acid identity to M. sexta Apn2 and contains a COOH-terminal signal peptide for glycosyl-PtdIns anchor addition. Both M. sexta Apn2 and P. xylostella Apn1 contain four Cys residues, which are highly conserved among eukaryotic aminopeptidase N molecules. Treatment of Sf9 cells expressing the P. xylostella apn1 gene with PtdIns-specific phospholipase C demonstrated that P. xylostella Apn1 is attached to the insect cell membrane by a glycosyl-PtdIns anchor.

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