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1.  Determination and Distribution of cry-Type Genes of Bacillus thuringiensis Isolates from Taiwan 
Using PCR with a set of specific oligonucleotide primers to detect cryI-type genes, we were able to screen the cry-type genes of 225 Bacillus thuringiensis soil isolates from Taiwan without much cost in time or labor. Some combinations of cry genes (the cry-type profile) in a single isolate were unique. We identified five distinct profiles of crystal genes from the B. thuringiensis soil isolates from Taiwan. The cry genes included cryIA(a), cryIA(b), cryIA(c), cryIC, cryID, and cryIV. Interestingly, 501 B. thuringiensis isolates (93.5% of the total number that we identified) were isolated from areas at high altitudes. The profiles of cry-type genes were distinct in all isolation areas. The distribution of cry-type genes of our isolates therefore depended on geography. Using PCR footprinting to detect cryIC-type genes, we identified two distinct cryIC footprints from some of our isolates, indicating that these isolates may contain novel cryIC-type genes. B. thuringiensis isolates containing cryIA(a)-, cryIA(b)-, and cryIA(c)-type genes exhibited much greater activity against Plutella xylostella than did other isolates, indicating that multiple cry-type genes may be used as markers for the prediction of insecticidal activities.
PMCID: PMC201665  PMID: 16349324
2.  Cloning of a novel cryIC-type gene from a strain of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. galleriae. 
A novel cryIC-type gene was isolated from a strain of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. galleriae. A new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique with a set of several oligonucleotide primer pairs specific to the cryIC gene was used to screen a number of B. thuringiensis strains. PCR amplified several DNA fragments ranging from 100 bp to 1 kb for B. thuringiensis strains containing a cryIC gene. PCR fragments amplified from the Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. galleriae HD29 DNA differed from the fragments amplified from other cryIC-containing strains, indicating strain HD29 contained a novel cryIC-type gene. To isolate crystal genes homologous to cryIC, an HD29 gene library was probed with a 984-bp fragment of the amino-terminal coding region of the cryIC gene cloned from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD229. A putative toxin gene was isolated from a phage that hybridized strongly to the cryIC probe. Translation of the putative toxin DNA sequence revealed an open reading frame of 1,176 amino acids whose predicted molecular mass was 132.8 kDa. Comparisons of the toxin gene sequence with sequences of other cry genes indicated that this gene is a subclass of cryIC. We propose to designate this gene cryIC(b). In Escherichia coli, the cryIC(b) gene produced a protein of approximately 130 kDa toxic to Spodoptera exigua and Trichoplusia ni.
PMCID: PMC202250  PMID: 8476286
3.  Specific PCR primers directed to identify cryI and cryIII genes within a Bacillus thuringiensis strain collection. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1995;61(11):3826-3831.
In this paper we describe a PCR strategy that can be used to rapidly identify Bacillus thuringiensis strains that harbor any of the known cryI or cryIII genes. Four general PCR primers which amplify DNA fragments from the known cryI or cryIII genes were selected from conserved regions. Once a strain was identified as an organism that contains a particular type of cry gene, it could be easily characterized by performing additional PCR with specific cryI and cryIII primers selected from variable regions. The method described in this paper can be used to identify the 10 different cryI genes and the five different cryIII genes. One feature of this screening method is that each cry gene is expected to produce a PCR product having a precise molecular weight. The genes which produce PCR products having different sizes probably represent strains that harbor a potentially novel cry gene. Finally, we present evidence that novel crystal genes can be identified by the method described in this paper.
PMCID: PMC167686  PMID: 8526493
4.  A novel Bacillus thuringiensis gene encoding a Spodoptera exigua-specific crystal protein. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1990;172(12):6783-6788.
Only one of the four lepidoptera-specific crystal protein subclasses (CryIC) Bacillus thuringiensis was previously shown to be highly toxic against several Spodoptera species. By using a cryIC-derived nucleotide probe, DNA from 25 different strains of B. thuringiensis was screened for the presence of homologous sequences. A putative crystal protein gene, considerably different from the cryIC gene subclass, was identified in the DNA of strain 4F1 (serotype kenyae) and cloned in Escherichia coli. Its nucleotide sequence was determined and appeared to contain several features typical for a crystal protein gene. Furthermore, the region coding for the N-terminal part of the putative toxic fragment showed extensive homology to subclass cryIA sequences derived from gene BtII, whereas the region coding for the C-terminal part appeared to be highly homologous to the cryIC gene BtVI. With an anti-crystal protein antiserum, a polypeptide of the expected size could be demonstrated in Western immunoblots, onto which a lysate of E. coli cells harboring the putative gene, now designated as BtXI, had been transferred. Cells expressing the gene appeared to be equally toxic against larvae of Spodoptera exigua as recombinant cells expressing the BtVI (cryIC)-encoded crystal protein. However, no toxicity against larvae of Heliothis virescens, Mamestra brassicae, or Pieris brassicae could be demonstrated. The nucleotide sequence analysis and the toxicity studies showed that this novel crystal protein gene falls into a new cryl gene subclass. We propose that this subclass be referred to as cryIE.
PMCID: PMC210793  PMID: 2254254
5.  Distribution of cryV-type insecticidal protein genes in Bacillus thuringiensis and cloning of cryV-type genes from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki and Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus. 
DNA dot blot hybridizations with a cryV-specific probe and a cryI-specific probe were performed to screen 24 Bacillus thuringiensis strains for their cryV-type (lepidopteran- and coleopteran-specific) and cryI-type (lepidopteran-specific) insecticidal crystal protein gene contents, respectively. The cryV-specific probe hybridized to 12 of the B. thuringiensis strains examined. Most of the cryV-positive strains also hybridized to the cryI-specific probe, indicating that the cryV genes are closely related to cryI genes. Two cryV-type genes, cryV1 and cryV465, were cloned from B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD-1 and B. thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus BP465, respectively, and their nucleotide sequences were determined. The CryV1 protein was toxic to Plutella xylostella and Bombyx mori, whereas the CryV465 protein was toxic only to Plutella xylostella.
PMCID: PMC167511  PMID: 7793960
6.  A complete physical map of a Bacillus thuringiensis chromosome. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(4):1053-1060.
Bacillus thuringiensis is the source of the most widely used biological pesticide, through its production of insecticidal toxins. The toxin genes are often localized on plasmids. We have constructed a physical map of a Bacillus thuringiensis chromosome by aligning 16 fragments obtained by digestion with the restriction enzyme NotI. The fragments ranged from 15 to 1,350 kb. The size of the chromosome was 5.4 Mb. The NotI DNA fingerprint patterns of 12 different B. thuringiensis strains showed marked variation. The cryIA-type toxin gene was present on the chromosome in four strains, was extrachromosomal in four strains, and was both chromosomal and extrachromosomal in two strains. A Tn4430 transposon probe hybridized to 5 of the 10 cryIA-positive chromosomal fragments, while cryIA and the transposon often hybridized to different extrachromosomal bands. Ten of the strains were hemolytic when grown on agar plates containing human erythrocytes. Nine of the strains were positive when assayed for the presence of Bacillus cereus enterotoxin. We conclude that B. thuringiensis is very closely related to B. cereus and that the distinction between B. cereus and B. thuringiensis should be reconsidered.
PMCID: PMC193019  PMID: 8432698
7.  Identification of cry1I-Type Genes from Bacillus thuringiensis Strains and Characterization of a Novel cry1I-Type Gene 
A PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism method for identification of cry1I-type genes from Bacillus thuringiensis was established by designing a pair of universal primers based on the conserved regions of the genes to amplify 1,548-bp cry1I-type gene fragments. Amplification products were digested with the Bsp119I and BanI enzymes, and four kinds of known cry1I-type genes were successfully identified. The results showed that cry1I-type genes appeared in 95 of 115 B. thuringiensis isolates and 7 of 13 standard strains. A novel cry1I-type gene was found in one standard strain and six isolates. The novel cry1I gene was cloned from B. thuringiensis isolate Btc007 and subcloned into vector pET-21b. Then it was overexpressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3). The expressed product was shown to be toxic to the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella), Asian corn borer (Ostrinia furnacalis), and soybean pod borer (Leguminivora glycinivorella). However, it was not toxic to the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua), or elm leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta aenescens) in bioassays. Subsequently, the Cry protein encoded by this novel cry gene was designated Cry1Ie1 by the B. thuringiensis δ-endotoxin nomenclature committee.
PMCID: PMC194953  PMID: 12957903
8.  Characterization of Cry2-Type Genes of Bacillus Thuringiensis Strains From Soilisolated of Sichuan Basin, China 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2011;42(1):140-146.
Sichuan basin, situated in the west of China, is the fourth biggest basin in China. In order to describe a systematic study of the cry2-type genes resources from Bacillus thuringiensis strains of Sichuan basin, a total of 791 Bacillus thuringiensis strains have been screened from 2650 soil samples in different ecological regions. The method of PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was used to identify the type of cry2 genes. The results showed that 322 Bacillus thuringiensis strains harbored cry2-type genes and four different RFLP patterns were found. The combination of cry2Aa/cry2Ab genes was the most frequent (90.4%), followed by cry2Aa (6.8%) and cry2Ab alone (2.5%), and only one novel type of cry2 gene was cloned from one isolate (JF19-2). The full-length of this novel gene was obtained by the method of thermal asymmetric interlaced PCR (Tail-PCR), which was designated as cry2Ag1 (GenBank No. ACH91610) by the Bt Pesticide Crystal Protein Nomenclature Committee. In addition, the result of scanning electron microscopic (SEM) observation showed that these strains had erose, spherical, bipyramidal, and square crystal. And the results of sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) demonstrated that these strains harbored about one to three major proteins. These strains exhibited a wide range of insecticidal spectrum toxic to Aedes aegypti (Diptera) and Pieris rapae Linnaeus, 1758 (Lepidoptera). Particularly, JF19-2 contained cry2Ag gene had the highest insecticidal activity. All these researches mentioned above revealed the diversity and particularity of cry2-type gene resources from Bacillus thuringiensis strains in Sichuan basin.
PMCID: PMC3768927  PMID: 24031615
Bacillus thuringiensis; PCR-RFLP; SDS-PAGE; novel cry2-type gene
9.  Toxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis Spore and Crystal Protein to Resistant Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella) 
A colony of Plutella xylostella from crucifer fields in Florida was used in mortality bioassays with HD-1 spore, CryIA(a), CryIA(b), CryIA(c), CryIB, CryIC, CryID, CryIE, or CryIIA. The data revealed high levels of field-evolved resistance to HD-1 spore and all CryIA protoxins and no resistance to CryIB, CryIC, or CryID. CryIE and CryIIA were essentially not toxic. When HD-1 spore was combined 1:1 with protoxin and fed to susceptible larvae, spore synergized the activity of CryIA and CryIC 5- to 8-fold and 1.7-fold, respectively, and did not synergize the mortality of CryIIA. When fed to Florida larvae, spore failed to synergize the activity of all three CryIA protoxins, synergized the activity of CryIC 5.3-fold, and did not synergize the mortality for CryIIA. Binding studies with CryIA(b), CryIB, and CryIC were performed to determine possible mechanisms of resistance. The two techniques used were (i) binding of biotinylated toxin to tissue sections of larval midguts and (ii) binding of biotinylated toxin to brush border membrane vesicles prepared from whole larvae. Both showed dramatically reduced binding of CryIA(b) in resistant larvae compared with that in susceptible larvae but no differences in binding of CryIB or CryIC.
PMCID: PMC1388779  PMID: 16535241
10.  Characterization of Cry34/Cry35 Binary Insecticidal Proteins from Diverse Bacillus thuringiensis Strain Collections 
Bacillus thuringiensis crystal proteins of the Cry34 and Cry35 classes function as binary toxins showing activity on the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. We surveyed 6,499 B. thuringiensis isolates by hybridization for sequences related to cry35A genes, identifying 78 strains. Proteins of the appropriate molecular mass (ca. 44 kDa) for Cry35 were observed in 42 of the strains. Full-length, or nearly full-length, sequences of 34 cry34 genes and 16 cry35 genes were also obtained from cloning, PCR analysis, and DNA sequencing. These included representatives of all known Cry34A, Cry34B, Cry35A, and Cry35B classes, as well as a novel Cry34A/Cry35A-like pair. Bioassay analysis indicated that cry35-hybridizing strains not producing a ca. 14-kDa protein, indicative of Cry34, were not active on corn rootworms, and that the previously identified Cry34A/Cry35A pairs were more active than the Cry34B/Cry35B pairs. The cry35-hybridizing B. thuringiensis strains were found in locales and materials typical for other B. thuringiensis strains. Comparison of the sequences with the geographic origins of the strains showed that identical, or nearly identical, sequences were found in strains from both Australasia and the Americas. Sequence similarity searches revealed that Cry34 proteins are similar to predicted proteins in Photorhabdus luminescens and Dictyostelium discoidium, and that Cry35Ab1 contains a segment similar to beta-trefoil domains that may be a binding motif. The binary Cry34/Cry35 B. thuringiensis crystal proteins thus appear closely related to each other, are environmentally ubiquitous, and share sequence similarities consistent with activity through membrane disruption in target organisms.
PMCID: PMC1082557  PMID: 15811999
11.  Isolation and characterization of a novel insecticidal crystal protein gene from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1991;173(13):3966-3976.
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai EG6346, a novel grain dust isolate, was analyzed by Southern blot hybridization for its insecticidal crystal protein (ICP) gene profile. Strain EG6346 lacks previously characterized cryIA ICP genes yet does possess novel cryI-related gene sequences. A recombinant genomic plasmid library was constructed for strain EG6346 in Escherichia coli. One recombinant plasmid, pEG640, isolated from the library contained a novel ICP gene on a 5.7-kb Sau3A insert. The sequence of this gene, designated cryIF, was related to, but distinct from, the published sequences for other cryI genes. A second novel cryI-related sequence was also located on pEG640, approximately 500 bp downstream from cryIF. Introduction of cryIF into a Cry- B. thuringiensis recipient strain via electroporation enabled sufficient production of CryIF protein for quantitative bioassay analyses of insecticidal specificity. The CryIF crystal protein was selectively toxic to a subset of lepidopteran insects tested, including the larvae of Ostrinia nubilalis and Spodoptera exigua.
PMCID: PMC208042  PMID: 2061280
12.  The solubility of inclusion proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis is dependent upon protoxin composition and is a factor in toxicity to insects. 
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133 is one of several strains particularly effective against Plodia interpunctella selected for resistance to B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD1 (Dipel). B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133 produces inclusions containing three protoxins, CryIA(b), CryIC, and CryID, and the CryIC protoxin has been shown to be active on resistant P. interpunctella as well as on Spodoptera larvae. The CryIA(b) protoxin is very similar to the major one in B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD1, and as expected, this protoxin was inactive on resistant P. interpunctella. A derivative of B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133 which had been cured of a 68-kb plasmid containing the cryIA(b) gene produced inclusions comprising only the CryIC and CryID protoxins. Surprisingly, these inclusions were much less toxic for resistant P. interpunctella and two other Lepidoptera than those produced by the parental strain, whereas the soluble protoxins from these strains were equally effective. In contrast, inclusions from the two strains were about as active as soluble protoxins for Spodoptera frugiperda larvae, so toxicity differences between inclusions may be due to the solubilizing conditions within particular larval guts. Consistent with this hypothesis, it was found that a higher pH was required to solubilize protoxins from inclusions from the plasmid-cured strain than from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133, a difference which is probably attributable to the absence of the CryIA(b) protoxin in the former. The interactions of structurally related protoxins within an inclusion are probably important for solubility and are thus another factor in the effectiveness of B. thuringiensis isolates for particular insect larvae.
PMCID: PMC182833  PMID: 2059054
13.  Characterization of cry Genes in a Mexican Bacillus thuringiensis Strain Collection 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(12):4965-4972.
Mexico is located in a transition zone between the Nearctic and Neotropical biogeographical regions and contains a rich and unique biodiversity. A total of 496 Bacillus thuringiensis strains were isolated from 503 soil samples collected from the five macroregions of the country. The characterization of the strain collection provided useful information on the ecological patterns of distribution of B. thuringiensis and opportunities for the selection of strains to develop novel bioinsecticidal products. The analysis of the strains was based on multiplex PCR with novel general and specific primers that could detect the cry1, cry3, cry5, cry7, cry8, cry9, cry11, cry12, cry13, cry14, cry21, and cyt genes. The proteins belonging to the Cry1 and Cry9 groups are toxic for lepidopteran insects. The Cry3, Cry7, and Cry8 proteins are active against coleopteran insects. The Cry5, Cry12, Cry13, and Cry14 proteins are nematocidal. The Cry11, Cry21, and Cyt proteins are toxic for dipteran insects. Six pairs of general primers are used in this method. Strains for which unique PCR product profiles were obtained with the general primers were further characterized by additional PCRs with specific primers. Strains containing cry1 genes were the most abundant in our collection (49.5%). Thirty-three different cry1-type profiles were identified. B. thuringiensis strains harboring cry3 genes represented 21.5% of the strains, and 7.9% of the strains contained cry11 and cyt genes. cry7, cry8, and cry9 genes were found in 0.6, 2.4, and 2.6% of the strains, respectively. No strains carrying cry5, cry12, cry13, cry14, or cry21 genes were found. Finally, 14% of the strains did not give any PCR product and did not react with any polyclonal antisera. Our results indicate the presence of strains that may harbor potentially novel Cry proteins as well as strains with combinations of less frequently observed cry genes.
PMCID: PMC90950  PMID: 9835590
14.  Multiplex polymerase chain reaction for detection and differentiation of the microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis. 
A rapid identification of Bacillus thuringiensis strains was established by using multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Primers of high homology specific to regions within genes encoding three major classes of B. thuringiensis crystal proteins were used to generate a PCR product profile characteristic of each strain of B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. Differentiation among these strains was made on the basis of the electrophoretic pattern of the PCR products. Known B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strains as well as unidentified strains isolated from insect cadavers were analyzed by PCR. Small amounts of crude sample lysates were assayed in a two-step PCR containing five primers capable of distinguishing between the strains giving products of 1,500, 858, and 653 bp for the CryIA(a) CryIA(b), and CryIA(c) genes, respectively. The method can be applied to rapidly detect the strains of B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki in commercial formulations and in the field.
PMCID: PMC202137  PMID: 8434916
15.  Resistance to Toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki Causes Minimal Cross-Resistance to B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai in the Diamondback Moth (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) † 
Repeated exposure in the field followed by laboratory selection produced 1,800- to >6,800-fold resistance to formulations of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki in larvae of the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella. Four toxins from B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki [CryIA(a), CryIA(b), CryIA(c), and CryIIA] caused significantly less mortality in resistant larvae than in susceptible larvae. Resistance to B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki formulations and toxins did not affect the response to CryIC toxin from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai. Larvae resistant to B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki showed threefold cross-resistance to formulations of B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai containing CryIC and CryIA toxins. This minimal cross-resistance may be caused by resistance to CryIA toxins shared by B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki and B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai.
PMCID: PMC182085  PMID: 16348929
16.  Diversity of Bacillus thuringiensis Strains from Latin America with Insecticidal Activity against Different Mosquito Species 
The characterization of selected Bacillus thuringiensis strains isolated from different Latin America countries is presented. Characterization was based on their insecticidal activity against Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus, and Anopheles albimanus larvae, scanning electron microscopy, sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and plasmid profiles as well as PCR analysis using novel general and specific primers for cry and cyt genes encoding proteins active against mosquitoes (cyt1, cyt2, cry2, cry4A, cry4B, cry10, cry11, cry17, cry19, cry24, cry25, cry27, cry29, cry30, cry32, cry39, and cry40). Strains LBIT315, LBIT348, and IB604 showed threefold higher mosquitocidal activity against A. aegypti and C. quinquefasciatus larvae than B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis and displayed high similarities with the B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis used in this study with regard to protein and plasmid profiles and the presence of cry genes. Strain 147-8906 has activity against A. aegypti similar to that of B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis but has different protein and plasmid profiles. This strain, harboring cry11, cry30, cyt1, and cyt2 genes, could be relevant for future resistance management interventions. Finally, the PCR screening strategy presented here led us to identify a putative novel cry11B gene.
PMCID: PMC194983  PMID: 12957913
17.  Cloning and expression of a novel toxin gene from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. jegathesan encoding a highly mosquitocidal protein. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1995;61(12):4230-4235.
A gene, designated cry11B, encoding a 81,293-Da crystal protein of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. jegathesan was cloned by using a gene-specific oligonucleotide probe. The sequence of the Cry11B protein, as deduced from the sequence of the cry11B gene, contains large regions of similarity with the Cry11A toxin (previously CryIVD) from B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis. The Cry11B protein was immunologically related to both Cry11A and Cry4A proteins. The cry11B gene was expressed in a nontoxic strain of B. thuringiensis, in which Cry11B was produced in large amounts during sporulation and accumulated as inclusions. Purified Cry11B inclusions were highly toxic for mosquito larvae of the species Aedes aegypti, Culex pipiens, and Anopheles stephensi. The activity of Cry11B toxin was higher than that of Cry11A and similar to that of the native crystals from B. thuringiensis subsp. jegathesan, which contain at least seven polypeptides.
PMCID: PMC167734  PMID: 8534090
18.  Extended screening by PCR for seven cry-group genes from field-collected strains of Bacillus thuringiensis. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1997;63(12):4883-4890.
An extended multiplex PCR method was established to rapidly identify and classify Bacillus thuringiensis strains containing cry (crystal protein) genes toxic to species of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera. The technique enriches current strategies and simplifies the initial stages of large-scale screening of cry genes by pinpointing isolates that contain specific genes or unique combinations of interest with potential insecticidal activities, thus facilitating subsequent toxicity assays. Five pairs of universal primers were designed to probe the highly conserved sequences and classify most (34 of about 60) genes known in the following groups: 20 cry1, 3 cry2, 4 cry3, 2 cry4, 2 cry7, and 3 cry8 genes. The DNA of each positive strain was probed with a set of specific primers designed for 20 of these genes and for cry11A. Twenty-two distinct cry-type profiles were identified from 126 field-collected B. thuringiensis strains. Several of them were found to be different from all published profiles. Some of the field-collected strains, but none of the 16 standard strains, were positive for cry2Ac. Three standard and 38 field-collected strains were positive by universal primers but negative by specific primers for all five known genes of cry7 and cry8. These field-collected strains seem to contain a new gene or genes that seem promising for biological control of insects and management of resistance.
PMCID: PMC168816  PMID: 9406409
19.  New Strategy for Identification of Novel cry-Type Genes from Bacillus thuringiensis Strains 
We designed five degenerate primers for detection of novel cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis strains. An efficient strategy was developed based on a two-step PCR approach with these primers in five pair combinations. In the first step, only one of the primer pairs is used in the PCR, which allows amplification of DNA fragments encoding protein regions that include consensus domains of representative proteins belonging to different Cry groups. A second PCR is performed by using the first-step amplification products as DNA templates and the set of five primer combinations. Cloning and sequencing of the last-step amplicons allow both the identification of known cry genes encoding Cry proteins covering a wide phylogenetic distance and the detection and characterization of cry-related sequences from novel B. thuringiensis isolates.
PMCID: PMC546719  PMID: 15691928
20.  Enhanced production of insecticidal proteins in Bacillus thuringiensis strains carrying an additional crystal protein gene in their chromosomes. 
A two-step procedure was used to place a cryIC crystal protein gene from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai into the chromosomes of two B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strains containing multiple crystal protein genes. The B. thuringiensis aizawai cryIC gene, which encodes an insecticidal protein highly specific to Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm), has not been found in any B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strains. The cryIC gene was cloned into an integration vector which contained a B. thuringiensis chromosomal fragment encoding a phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, allowing the B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai cryIC to be targeted to the homologous region of the B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki chromosome. First, to minimize the possibility of homologous recombination between cryIC and the resident crystal protein genes, B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD73, which contained only one crystal gene, was chosen as a recipient and transformed by electroporation. Second, a generalized transducing bacteriophage, CP-51, was used to transfer the integrated cryIC gene from HD73 to two other B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki stains. The integrated cryIC gene was expressed at a significant level in all three host strains, and the expression of cryIC did not appear to reduce the expression of the endogenous crystal protein genes. Because of the newly acquired ability to produce the CryIC protein, the recombinant strains showed a higher level of activity against S. exigua than did the parent strains. This two-step procedure should therefore be generally useful for the introduction of an additional crystal protein gene into B. thuringiensis strains which have multiple crystal protein genes and which show a low level of transformation efficiency.
PMCID: PMC167583  PMID: 7487039
21.  Mosquitocidal activity of the CryIC delta-endotoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai. 
The cloned 135-kDa CryIC delta-endotoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis is a lepidopteran-active toxin, displaying high activity in vivo against Spodoptera litoralis and Spodoptera frugiperda larvae and in vitro against the S. frugiperda Sf9 cell line. Here, we report that the CryIC delta-endotoxin cloned from B. thuringienesis subsp. aizawai HD-229 and expressed in an acrystalliferous B. thuringiensis strain is also toxic to Aedes aegypti, Anophles gambiae, and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito larvae. Furthermore, when solubilized and proteolytically activated by insect gut extracts, CryIC is cytotoxic to cell lines derived from the first two of these dipteran insects. This activity was not observed for two other lepidopteran-active delta-endotoxins, CryIA(a) and CryIA(c). However, in contrast to the case with a lepidopteran and dipteran delta-endotoxin cloned from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai IC1 (M.Z. Haider, B. H. Knowles, and D. J. Ellar, Eur. J. Biochem. 156:531-540, 1986), no differences in the in vitro specificity or processing of CryIC were found when it was activated by lepidopteran or dipteran gut extract. The recombinant CryIC delta-endotoxin expressed in Escherichia coli was also toxic to A. aegypti larvae. By contrast, a second cryIC gene cloned from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai 7.29 (V. Sanchis, D. Lereclus, G. Menou, J. Chaufaux, S. Guo, and M. M. Lecadet, Mol. Microbiol. 3:229-238, 1989) was nontoxic. DNA sequencing showed that the two genes were identical. However, CryIC from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai 7.29 had been cloned with a truncated C terminus, and when it was compared with the full-length CryIC delta-endotoxin, it was found to be insoluble under alkaline reducing conditions. These results show that CryIC from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai is a dually active delta-endotoxin.
PMCID: PMC167835  PMID: 8593070
22.  Insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kenyae: gene cloning and characterization and comparison with B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki CryIA(c) toxins. 
Genes encoding insecticidal crystal proteins were cloned from three strains of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kenyae and two strains of B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. Characterization of the B. thuringiensis subsp. kenyae toxin genes showed that they are most closely related to cryIA(c) from B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. The cloned genes were introduced into Bacillus host strains, and the spectra of insecticidal activities of each Cry protein were determined for six pest lepidopteran insects. CryIA(c) proteins from B. thuringiensis subsp. kenyae are as active as CryIA(c) proteins from B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki against Trichoplusia ni, Lymantria dispar, Heliothis zea, and H. virescens but are significantly less active against Plutella xylostella and, in some cases, Ostrinia nubilalis. The sequence of a cryIA(c) gene from B. thuringiensis subsp. kenyae was determined (GenBank M35524) and compared with that of cryIA(c) from B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. The two genes are more than 99% identical and show seven amino acid differences among the predicted sequences of 1,177 amino acids.
PMCID: PMC182717  PMID: 2014985
23.  Domain III substitution in Bacillus thuringiensis delta-endotoxin CryIA(b) results in superior toxicity for Spodoptera exigua and altered membrane protein recognition. 
To test our hypothesis that substitution of domain III of Bacillus thuringiensis delta-endotoxin (Cry) proteins might improve toxicity to pest insects, e.g., Spodoptera exigua, in vivo recombination was used to produce a number of cryIA(b)-cryIC hybrid genes. A rapid screening assay was subsequently exploited to select hybrid genes encoding soluble protoxins. Screening of 120 recombinants yielded two different hybrid genes encoding soluble proteins with domains I and II of CryIA(b) and domain III of CryIC. These proteins differed by only one amino acid residue. Both hybrid protoxins gave a protease-resistant toxin upon in vitro activation by trypsin. Bioassays showed that one of these CryIA(b)-CryIC hybrid proteins (H04) was highly toxic to S. exigua compared with the parental CryIA(b) protein and significantly more toxic than CryIC. In semiquantitative binding studies with biotin-labelled toxins and intact brush border membrane vesicles of S. exigua, this domain III substitution appeared not to affect binding-site specificity. However, binding to a 200-kDa protein by CryIA(b) in preparations of solubilized and blotted brush border membrane vesicle proteins was completely abolished by the domain III substitution. A reciprocal hybrid containing domains I and II of CryIC and domain III of CryIA(b) did bind to the 200-kDa protein, confirming that domain III of CryIA(b) was essential for this reaction. These results show that domain III of CryIC protein plays an important role in the level of toxicity to S. exigua, that substitution of domain III may be a powerful tool to increase the repertoire of available active toxins for pest insects, and that domain III is involved in binding to gut epithelium membrane proteins of S. exigua.
PMCID: PMC167929  PMID: 8633853
24.  Two Different Bacillus thuringiensis Delta-Endotoxin Receptors in the Midgut Brush Border Membrane of the European Corn Borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) 
Binding of three Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal proteins (ICPs) to the midgut epithelium of Ostrinia nubilalis larvae was characterized by performing binding experiments with both isolated brush border membrane vesicles and gut tissue sections. Our results demonstrate that two independent ICP receptors are present in the brush border of O. nubilalis gut epithelium. From competition binding experiments performed with 125I-labeled and native ICPs it was concluded that CryIA(b) and CryIA(c) are recognized by the same receptor. An 11-fold-higher binding affinity of CryIA(b) for this receptor correlated with a 10-fold-higher toxicity of this ICP compared with CryIA(c). The CryIB toxin did not compete for the binding site of CryIA(b) and CryIA(c). Immunological detection of ingested B. thuringiensis ICPs on gut sections of O. nubilalis larvae revealed binding only along the epithelial brush border membrane. CryID and CryIE, two ICPs that are not toxic to O. nubilalis, were not bound to the apical microvilli of gut epithelial cells. In vitro binding experiments performed with native and biotinylated ICPs on tissue sections confirmed the correlation between ICP binding and toxicity. Moreover, by performing heterologous competition experiments with biotinylated and native ICPs, it was confirmed that the CryIB receptor is different from the receptor for CryIA(b) and CryIA(c). Retention of activated crystal proteins by the peritrophic membrane was not correlated with toxicity. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that CryIA(b), CryIA(c), and CryIB toxins interact in vitro with the epithelial microvilli of Malpighian tubules. In addition, CryIA(c) toxin also adheres to the basement membrane of the midgut epithelium.
PMCID: PMC182168  PMID: 16348960
25.  Cross-Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Toxin CryIF in the Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella) 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1994;60(12):4627-4629.
Selection with Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki, which contains CryIA and CryII toxins, caused a >200-fold cross-resistance to CryIF toxin from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella. CryIE was not toxic, but CryIB was highly toxic to both selected and unselected larvae. The results show that extremely high levels of cross-resistance can be conferred across classes of CryI toxins of B. thuringiensis.
PMCID: PMC202035  PMID: 16349471

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