Overexpression of the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cry2Aa2 protein in chloroplasts confers resistance to plants against susceptible and Bt-resistant insects.
Evolving levels of resistance in insects to the bioinsecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can be dramatically reduced through the genetic engineering of chloroplasts in plants. When transgenic tobacco leaves expressing Cry2Aa2 protoxin in chloroplasts were fed to susceptible, Cry1A-resistant (20,000- to 40,000-fold) and Cry2Aa2-resistant (330- to 393-fold) tobacco budworm Heliothis virescens, cotton bollworm Helicoverpa zea, and the beet armyworm Spodoptera exigua, 100% mortality was observed against all insect species and strains. Cry2Aa2 was chosen for this study because of its toxicity to many economically important insect pests, relatively low levels of cross-resistance against Cry1A-resistant insects, and its expression as a protoxin instead of a toxin because of its relatively small size (65 kDa). Southern blot analysis confirmed stable integration of cry2Aa2 into all of the chloroplast genomes (5, 000-10,000 copies per cell) of transgenic plants. Transformed tobacco leaves expressed Cry2Aa2 protoxin at levels between 2% and 3% of total soluble protein, 20- to 30-fold higher levels than current commercial nuclear transgenic plants. These results suggest that plants expressing high levels of a nonhomologous Bt protein should be able to overcome or at the very least, significantly delay, broad spectrum Bt-resistance development in the field. (+info)
Specific binding of the E2 subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase to the upstream region of Bacillus thuringiensis protoxin genes.
During sporulation, Bacillus thuringiensis produces inclusions comprised of different amounts of several related protoxins, each with a unique specificity profile for insect larvae. A major class of these genes designated cry1 have virtually identical dual overlapping promoters, but the upstream sequences differ. A gel retardation assay was used to purify a potential regulatory protein which bound with different affinities to these sequences in three cry1 genes. It was identified as the E2 subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase. There was specific competition for binding by homologous gene sequences but not by pUC nor Bacillus subtilis DNA; calf thymus DNA competed at higher concentrations. The B. thuringiensis gene encoding E2 was cloned, and the purified glutathione S-transferase-E2 fusion protein footprinted to a consensus binding sequence within an inverted repeat and to a potential bend region, both sites 200-300 base pairs upstream of the promoters. Mutations of these sites in the cry1A gene resulted in decreased binding of the E2 protein and altered kinetics of expression of a fusion of this regulatory region with the lacZ gene. Recruitment of the E2 subunit as a transcription factor could couple the change in post exponential catabolism to the initiation of protoxin synthesis. (+info)
Integrative model for binding of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins in susceptible and resistant larvae of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella).
Insecticidal crystal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis in sprays and transgenic crops are extremely useful for environmentally sound pest management, but their long-term efficacy is threatened by evolution of resistance by target pests. The diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is the first insect to evolve resistance to B. thuringiensis in open-field populations. The only known mechanism of resistance to B. thuringiensis in the diamondback moth is reduced binding of toxin to midgut binding sites. In the present work we analyzed competitive binding of B. thuringiensis toxins Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F to brush border membrane vesicles from larval midguts in a susceptible strain and in resistant strains from the Philippines, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Based on the results, we propose a model for binding of B. thuringiensis crystal proteins in susceptible larvae with two binding sites for Cry1Aa, one of which is shared with Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F. Our results show that the common binding site is altered in each of the three resistant strains. In the strain from the Philippines, the alteration reduced binding of Cry1Ab but did not affect binding of the other crystal proteins. In the resistant strains from Hawaii and Pennsylvania, the alteration affected binding of Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F. Previously reported evidence that a single mutation can confer resistance to Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, and Cry1F corresponds to expectations based on the binding model. However, the following two other observations do not: the mutation in the Philippines strain affected binding of only Cry1Ab, and one mutation was sufficient for resistance to Cry1Aa. The imperfect correspondence between the model and observations suggests that reduced binding is not the only mechanism of resistance in the diamondback moth and that some, but not all, patterns of resistance and cross-resistance can be predicted correctly from the results of competitive binding analyses of susceptible strains. (+info)
Subspecies-dependent regulation of Bacillus thuringiensis protoxin genes.
Bacillus thuringiensis accumulates, primarily during sporulation, large quantities of insecticidal protoxins which are deposited as crystalline, intracellular inclusions. Most subspecies contain several plasmid-encoded cry genes, each of which has a unique specificity. The overall toxicity profile of a subspecies depends not only on the array of cry genes present but also on the relative expression of the genes. In general, transcription depends on sporulation-specific sigma factors, but little is known about regulation of expression of the individual genes. In order to determine whether expression of a particular cry gene varies in different subspecies, lacZ fusions to the cry promoters of two protoxin genes (cry1 class) were constructed. Protoxin accumulation and mRNA contents were also measured by performing immunoblotting and Northern analyses, respectively. The expression of a cry1Ab-lacZ fusion, but not the expression of a cry1C-lacZ fusion, was three to four times lower in B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai strains than in B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki or B. thuringiensis subsp. tolworthi. Also, the Cry1Ab antigen and steady-state mRNA contents of B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai were lower. The regulation of the genes must involve regions upstream of the promoters which are unique to each cry gene since (i) mutations in the upstream region of the cry1Ab gene resulted in enhanced expression in B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai and (ii) no differences were found when the lacZ fusions contained the cry1Ab promoters but no upstream sequences. The capacity to regulate each of the protoxin genes must be a factor in the overall protoxin composition of a subspecies and thus its toxicity profile. (+info)
Replication mechanism and sequence analysis of the replicon of pAW63, a conjugative plasmid from Bacillus thuringiensis.
A 5.8-kb fragment of the large conjugative plasmid pAW63 from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD73 containing all the information for autonomous replication was cloned and sequenced. By deletion analysis, the pAW63 replicon was reduced to a 4.1-kb fragment harboring four open reading frames (ORFs). Rep63A (513 amino acids [aa]), encoded by the largest ORF, displayed strong similarity (40% identity) to the replication proteins from plasmids pAMbeta1, pIP501, and pSM19035, indicating that the pAW63 replicon belongs to the pAMbeta1 family of gram-positive theta-replicating plasmids. This was confirmed by the facts that no single-stranded DNA replication intermediates could be detected and that replication was found to be dependent on host-gene-encoded DNA polymerase I. An 85-bp region downstream of Rep63A was also shown to have strong similarity to the origins of replication of pAMbeta1 and pIP501, and it is suggested that this region contains the bona fide pAW63 ori. The protein encoded by the second large ORF, Rep63B (308 aa), was shown to display similarity to RepB (34% identity over 281 aa) and PrgP (32% identity over 310 aa), involved in copy control of the Enterococcus faecalis plasmids pAD1 and pCF10, respectively. No significant similarity to known proteins or DNA sequences could be detected for the two smallest ORFs. However, the location, size, hydrophilicity, and orientation of ORF6 (107 codons) were analogous to those features of the putative genes repC and prgO, which encode stability functions on plasmids pAD1 and pCF10, respectively. The cloned replicon of plasmid pAW63 was stably maintained in Bacillus subtilis and B. thuringiensis and displayed incompatibility with the native pAW63. Hybridization experiments using the cloned replicon as a probe showed that pAW63 has similarity to large plasmids from other B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strains and to a strain of B. thuringiensis subsp. alesti. (+info)
Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal Cry1Aa toxin binds to a highly conserved region of aminopeptidase N in the host insect leading to its evolutionary success.
Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal protein, Cry1Aa toxin, binds to a specific receptor in insect midguts and has insecticidal activity. Therefore, the structure of the receptor molecule is probably a key factor in determining the binding affinity of the toxin and insect susceptibility. The cDNA fragment (PX frg1) encoding the Cry1Aa toxin-binding region of an aminopeptidase N (APN) or an APN family protein from diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella midgut was cloned and sequenced. A comparison between the deduced amino acid sequence of PX frg1 and other insect APN sequences shows that Cry1Aa toxin binds to a highly conserved region of APN family protein. In this paper, we propose a model to explain the mechanism that causes B. thuringiensis evolutionary success and differing insect susceptibility to Cry1Aa toxin. (+info)
Immune responses in farm workers after exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis pesticides.
Although health risks to pesticides containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been minimal, the potential allergenicity of these organisms has not been evaluated. Therefore, a health survey was conducted in farm workers before and after exposure to Bt pesticides. Farm workers who picked vegetables that required Bt pesticide spraying were evaluated before the initial spraying operation (n = 48) and 1 and 4 months after (n = 32 and 20, respectively). Two groups of low- (n = 44) and medium- (n = 34) exposure workers not directly exposed to Bt spraying were also assessed. The investigation included questionnaires, nasal/mouth lavages, ventilatory function assessment, and skin tests to indigenous aeroallergens and to a variety of Bt spore and vegetative preparations. To authenticate exposure to the organism present in the commercial preparation, isolates from lavage specimens were tested for Bt genes by DNA-DNA hybridization. Humoral immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody responses to spore and vegetative Bt extracts were assayed. There was no evidence of occupationally related respiratory symptoms. Positive skin-prick tests to several spore extracts were seen chiefly in exposed workers. In particular, there was a significant (p < 0.05) increase in the number of positive skin tests to spore extracts 1 and 4 months after exposure to Bt spray. The number of positive skin test responses was also significantly higher in high (p < 0.05) than in low- or medium-exposure workers. The majority of nasal lavage cultures from exposed workers was positive for the commercial Bt organism, as demonstrated by specific molecular genetic probes. Specific IgE antibodies were present in more high-exposure workers (p < 0.05) than in the low and medium groups. Specific IgG antibodies occurred more in the high (p < 0.05) than in the low-exposure group. Specific IgG and IgE antibodies to vegetative organisms were present in all groups of workers. Exposure to Bt sprays may lead to allergic skin sensitization and induction of IgE and IgG antibodies, or both. (+info)
Interaction between functional domains of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal proteins.
Interactions among the three structural domains of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1 toxins were investigated by functional analysis of chimeric proteins. Hybrid genes were prepared by exchanging the regions coding for either domain I or domain III among Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, Cry1C, and Cry1E. The activity of the purified trypsin-activated chimeric toxins was evaluated by testing their effects on the viability and plasma membrane permeability of Sf9 cells. Among the parental toxins, only Cry1C was active against these cells and only chimeras possessing domain II from Cry1C were functional. Combination of domain I from Cry1E with domains II and III from Cry1C, however, resulted in an inactive toxin, indicating that domain II from an active toxin is necessary, but not sufficient, for activity. Pores formed by chimeric toxins in which domain I was from Cry1Ab or Cry1Ac were slightly smaller than those formed by toxins in which domain I was from Cry1C. The properties of the pores formed by the chimeras are therefore likely to result from an interaction between domain I and domain II or III. Domain III appears to modulate the activity of the chimeric toxins: combination of domain III from Cry1Ab with domains I and II of Cry1C gave a protein which was more strongly active than Cry1C. (+info)