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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.  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
4.  Effect of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins on the membrane potential of lepidopteran insect midgut cells. 
To test whether the ability of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins to form pores in the midgut epithelial cell membrane of susceptible insects correlates with their in vivo toxicity, we measured the effects of different toxins on the electrical potential of the apical membrane of freshly isolated midguts from gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) and silkworm (Bombyx mori) larvae. In the absence of toxin, the membrane potential, measured with a conventional glass microelectrode, was stable for up to 30 min. It was sensitive to the K+ concentration and the oxygenation of the external medium. Addition of toxins to which L. dispar is highly [CryIA(a) and CryIA(b)] or only slightly [CryIA(c) and CryIC] sensitive caused a rapid, irreversible, and dose-dependent depolarization of the membrane. CryIF, whose toxicity towards L. dispar is unknown, and CryIE, which is at best poorly active in vivo, were also active in vitro. In contrast, CryIB and CryIIIA, a coleopteran-specific toxin, had no significant effect. The basolateral-membrane potential was unaffected by CryIA(a) or CryIC when the toxin was applied to the basal side of the epithelium. In B. mori midguts, the apical-membrane potential was abolished by CryIA(a), to which silkworm larvae are susceptible, but CryIA(b) and CryIA(c); to which they are resistant, had no detectable effect. Although the technique discriminated between active and inactive toxins, the concentration required to produce a given effect varied much less extensively than the sensitivity of gypsy moth larvae, suggesting that additional factors influence the toxins' level of toxicity in vivo.
PMCID: PMC168462  PMID: 9143102
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  Development of Bacillus thuringiensis CryIC Resistance by Spodoptera exigua (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) 
Selection of resistance in Spodoptera exigua (Hubner) to an HD-1 spore-crystal mixture, CryIC (HD-133) inclusion bodies, and trypsinized toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai and B. thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus was attempted by using laboratory bioassays. No resistance to the HD-1 spore-crystal mixture could be achieved after 20 generations of selection. Significant levels of resistance (11-fold) to CryIC inclusion bodies expressed in Escherichia coli were observed after seven generations. Subsequent selection of the CryIC-resistant population with trypsinized CryIC toxin resulted, after 21 generations of CryIC selection, in a population of S. exigua that exhibited only 8% mortality at the highest toxin concentration tested (320 (mu)g/g), whereas the 50% lethal concentration was 4.30 (mu)g/g for the susceptible colony. Insects resistant to CryIC toxin from HD-133 also were resistant to trypsinized CryIA(b), CryIC from B. thuringiensis subsp. entomocidus, CryIE-CryIC fusion protein (G27), CryIH, and CryIIA. In vitro binding experiments with brush border membrane vesicles showed a twofold decrease in maximum CryIC binding, a fivefold difference in K(infd), and no difference in the concentration of binding sites for the CryIC-resistant insects compared with those for the susceptible insects. Resistance to CryIC was significantly reduced by the addition of HD-1 spores. Resistance to the CryIC toxin was still observed 12 generations after CryIC selection was removed. These results suggest that, in S. exigua, resistance to a single protein is more likely to occur than resistance to spore-crystal mixtures and that once resistance occurs, insects will be resistant to many other Cry proteins. These results have important implications for devising S. exigua resistance management strategies in the field.
PMCID: PMC1388456  PMID: 16535038
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  An Improved PCR-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) Method for the Identification of cry1-Type Genes 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(21):6706-6711.
The cry1-type genes of Bacillus thuringiensis represent the largest cry gene family, which contains 50 distinct holotypes. It is becoming more and more difficult to identify cry1-type genes using current methods because of the increasing number of cry1-type genes. In the present study, an improved PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method which can distinguish 41 holotypes of cry1-type genes was developed. This improved method was used to identify cry1-type genes in 20 B. thuringiensis strains that are toxic to lepidoptera. The results showed that the improved method can efficiently identify single and clustered cry1-type genes and can be used to evaluate cry1-type genes in novel strain collections of B. thuringiensis. Among the detected cry1-type genes, we identified four novel genes, cry1Ai, cry1Bb, cry1Ja, and cry1La. The bioassay results from the expressed products of the four novel cry genes showed that Cry1Ai2, Cry1Bb2, and Cry1Ja2 were highly toxic against Plutella xylostella, whereas Cry1La2 exhibited no activity. Moreover, Cry1Ai2 had good lethal activity against Ostrinia furnacalis, Hyphantria cunea, Chilo suppressalis, and Bombyx mori larvae and considerable weight loss activity against Helicoverpa armigera.
PMCID: PMC3811518  PMID: 23995930
14.  Characterization of two genes encoding Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal proteins toxic to Coleoptera species. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1992;58(12):3921-3927.
Bacillus thuringiensis EG2838 and EG4961 are highly toxic to Colorado potato beetle larvae, and only strain EG4961 is toxic to southern corn rootworm larvae. To investigate the cause of the different insecticidal activities of EG2838 and EG4961, cryIII-type genes toxic to coleopterans were cloned from each strain. The cryIIIB gene, cloned as part of an 8.0-kb EcoRI fragment of EG2838 DNA, encoded a crystal protein (CryIIIB) of 74,237 Da. The cryIIIB2 gene, cloned as part of an 8.3-kb PstI-Asp718 fragment of EG4961 DNA, encoded a crystal protein (CryIIIB2) of 74,393 Da that was 94% identical to CryIIIB. Analysis of the transcriptional start sites showed that cryIIIB and cryIIIB2 were initiated from a conserved region located within 130 nucleotides upstream from the translation start sites of both genes. Although the CryIIIB and CryIIIB2 proteins were similar in sequence, they displayed distinct insecticidal activities: CryIIIB was one-third as toxic as CryIIIB2 to Colorado potato beetle larvae, and CryIIIB2, but not CryIIIB, was toxic to southern corn rootworm larvae. Genes encoding crystal proteins of approximately 32 and 31 kDa were located adjacent to the cryIIIB and cryIIIB2 genes, respectively. The 32- and 31-kDa crystal proteins failed to enhance the insecticidal activities of CryIIIB and CryIIIB2.
PMCID: PMC183205  PMID: 1476436
15.  Expression of the crystal protein gene under the control of the alpha-amylase promoter in Bacillus thuringiensis strains. 
The expression of an insecticidal crystal protein gene of Bacillus thuringiensis under the control of the alpha-amylase gene promoter was investigated. The cryIC gene, which encodes a protein known to have a unique activity against Spodoptera (armyworm) species, was used in this investigation. The cryIC gene was placed, along with the alpha-amylase promoter from B. subtilis, in a B. thuringiensis-derived cloning vector, generating a pair of recombinant plasmids, pSB744 and pSB745. The cloning vector that contains the minimal replicon of B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD73 is stably maintained in a variety of B. thuringiensis strains, as previously reported by Gamel and Piot (Gene 120:17-26, 1992). The present study confirmed that the recombinant plasmids are also stably maintained in B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki Cry-B and HD73 growing in media without selection pressure for at least 48 h. The cryIC gene on the recombinant plasmids were notably expressed at high levels in both recombinant strains. Expression of the introduced cryIC gene on the recombinant plasmid in B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki HD73 did not impair expression of the resident cryIA(c) gene. The CryIA(c) protein is known to have a high level of activity against loopers such as Trichoplusia ni (the cabbage looper). As a result of coexpression of the introduced cryIC gene and the resident cryIA(c) gene, recombinant strain HD73 acquired an additional insecticidal activity against Spodoptera exigua (the beet armyworm) whereas the original activity level against T. ni was maintained.
PMCID: PMC201647  PMID: 8074511
16.  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
17.  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
18.  Binding of Insecticidal Crystal Proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis to the Midgut Brush Border of the Cabbage Looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), and Selection for Resistance to One of the Crystal Proteins 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1994;60(10):3840-3846.
The susceptibility of Trichoplusia ni larvae to several Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal proteins (ICPs) was tested. Neonatal larvae proved to be susceptible to solubilized trypsin-treated CryIA(a), CryIA(b), and CryIA(c) (50% lethal concentrations [LC50s], 570, 480, and 320 ng/cm2, respectively) but showed little susceptibility to CryIB and CryID (LC50s, 5,640 and 2,530 ng/cm2, respectively). The toxicity of ICPs was correlated to binding to the epithelial brush border of the midgut, as revealed by immunocytochemical staining with monoclonal antibodies. In vitro binding experiments with iodinated ICPs and brush border membrane vesicles indicated that CryIA(b) and CryIA(c) share the same high-affinity binding site, whereas CryIA(a) binds to a different one. The affinities of CryIA(b) and CryIA(c) for the binding site were similar (Kd = 3.6 and 4.7 nM, respectively), and the mean binding-site concentration was 0.71 pmol/mg of vesicle protein. Selection of a population with increasing concentrations of CryIA(b) produced 31-fold resistance in seven generations. The realized heritability (h2) was 0.19. The increase of homozygosity (for resistance factors) as selection proceeded was reflected in the increase in the slopes of the dose-mortality curves. Resistance was specific for CryIA(b) and did not extend to CryIA(a) or even to CryIA(c). This result was not predicted by the binding-site model, in which CryIA(b) and CryIA(c) bind to the same high-affinity binding site. This result may suggest a more complicated relationship between in vitro binding of ICPs to specific sites in the epithelial membrane of the midgut and the in vivo toxic effect.
PMCID: PMC201893  PMID: 16349420
19.  The protoxin composition of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal inclusions affects solubility and toxicity. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1995;61(11):4057-4060.
Most Bacillus thuringiensis strains producing toxins active on lepidoptera contain several plasmid-encoded delta-endotoxin genes and package related protoxins into a single inclusion. It was previously found that in B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133, which produces an inclusion comprising the CryIAb, CryIC, and CryID protoxins, there is a spontaneous loss in about 1% of the cells of a 45-mDa plasmid containing the cryIAb gene. As a result, inclusions produced by the cured strain were less readily solubilized at pH 9.2 or 9.5 and had a decreased toxicity for Plodia interpunctella, despite the presence of the CryIC protoxin, which was active when solubilized. These results suggested that protoxin composition was a factor in inclusion solubility and toxicity and that the cryIAb gene, which is also present on an unstable plasmid in several other subspecies, may have a unique role in inclusion solubility and toxicity. Introduction of a cloned copy of this gene into the plasmid-cured derivative of B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133 resulted in an increase in the solubility at pH 9.2 of all of the inclusion proteins from less than 20% to greater than 45% and a lowering of the 50% lethal concentration (LC50, in micrograms [dry weight] per square centimeter) of inclusions for Spodoptera frugiperda from 35 to 10. These values are the same as those found with inclusions from B. thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD133, and in all cases, the LC50 of the solubilized protoxins was 10. Transformants containing related cryIA genes produced inclusions which were more than 95% solubilized at pH 9.2 but also had LC50 of 10.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC167712  PMID: 8526519
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  A Holistic Approach for Determining the Entomopathogenic Potential of Bacillus thuringiensis Strains 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(12):4782-4788.
The cry gene content of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai HD-133 was analyzed by a combination of high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and exclusive PCR. A total of six cry genes were detected in genomic DNA purified from HD-133, four from the cry1 family (cry1Aa, cry1Ab, cry1C, and cry1D) as well as a gene each from the cry2 (cry2B) and the cry1I families. To directly determine which genes were expressed and crystallized in the purified parasporal inclusions, solubilized and trypsinized HD-133 crystals were subjected to chromatographic separation by HPLC. Only three proteins, Cry1Ab, Cry1C, and Cry1D, were found, in a 60/37/3 ratio. Dot blot analysis of total mRNA purified from HD-133 showed that both the cry2B and cry1I genes, but not the cry1Aa gene, were transcribed. Cloning and sequencing of the cry1Aa gene revealed an inserted DNA sequence within the cry coding sequence, resulting in a disrupted reading frame. Taken together, our results show that combining crystal protein analysis with a genetic approach is a highly complementary and powerful way to assess the potential of B. thuringiensis isolates for new insecticidal genes and specificities. Furthermore, based on the number of cryptic genes found in HD-133, the total cry gene content of B. thuringiensis strains may be higher than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC90922  PMID: 9835562
24.  Cross-resistance of the diamondback moth indicates altered interactions with domain II of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins. 
We compared responses to six insecticidal crystal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis by a Cry1A-resistant strain (NO-QA) and a susceptible strain (LAB-P) of the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella. The resistant strain showed > 100-fold cross-resistance to Cry1J and to H04, a hybrid with domains I and II of Cry1Ab and domain III or Cry1C. Cross-resistance was sixfold to Cry1Bb and threefold to Cry1D. The potency of Cry1I did not differ significantly between the resistant and susceptible strains. Cry2B did not kill resistant or susceptible larvae. By combining these new data with previously published results, we classified responses to 14 insecticidal crystal proteins by strains NO-QA and LAB-P. NO-QA showed high levels of resistance to Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, and Cry1Ac and high levels of cross-resistance to Cry1F, Cry1J, and H04. Cross-resistance was low or nil to Cry1Ba, Cry1Bb, Cry1C, Cry1D, Cry1I, and Cry2A. Cry1E and Cry2B showed little or no toxicity to susceptible or resistant larvae. In dendrograms based on levels of amino acid sequence similarity among proteins, Cry1F and Cry1J clustered together with Cry1A proteins for domain II, but not for domain I or III. High levels of cross-resistance to Cry1Ab-Cry1C hybrid H04 show that although Cry1C is toxic to NO-QA, domain III or Cry1C is not sufficient to restore toxicity when it is combined with domains I and II of Cry1Ab. Thus, diamondback moth strain NO-QA cross-resistance extends beyond the Cry1A family of proteins to at least two other families that exhibit high levels of amino sequence similarity with Cry1A in domain II (Cry1F and Cry1J) and to a protein that is identical to Cry1Ab in domain II (H04). The results of this study imply that resistance to Cry1A alters interactions between the insect and domain II.
PMCID: PMC168069  PMID: 8702276
25.  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

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