Mutations in domain I interhelical loops affect the rate of pore formation by the Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Aa toxin in insect midgut brush border membrane vesicles.
ABSTRACT Pore formation in the apical membrane of the midgut epithelial cells of susceptible insects constitutes a key step in the mode of action of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal toxins. In order to study the mechanism of toxin insertion into the membrane, at least one residue in each of the pore-forming-domain (domain I) interhelical loops of Cry1Aa was replaced individually by cysteine, an amino acid which is normally absent from the activated Cry1Aa toxin, using site-directed mutagenesis. The toxicity of most mutants to Manduca sexta neonate larvae was comparable to that of Cry1Aa. The ability of each of the activated mutant toxins to permeabilize M. sexta midgut brush border membrane vesicles was examined with an osmotic swelling assay. Following a 1-h preincubation, all mutants except the V150C mutant were able to form pores at pH 7.5, although the W182C mutant had a weaker activity than the other toxins. Increasing the pH to 10.5, a procedure which introduces a negative charge on the thiol group of the cysteine residues, caused a significant reduction in the pore-forming abilities of most mutants without affecting those of Cry1Aa or the I88C, T122C, Y153C, or S252C mutant. The rate of pore formation was significantly lower for the F50C, Q151C, Y153C, W182C, and S252C mutants than for Cry1Aa at pH 7.5. At the higher pH, all mutants formed pores significantly more slowly than Cry1Aa, except the I88C mutant, which formed pores significantly faster, and the T122C mutant. These results indicate that domain I interhelical loop residues play an important role in the conformational changes leading to toxin insertion and pore formation.
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ABSTRACT: A critical step in understanding the mode of action of insecticidal crystal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis is their partitioning into membranes and, in particular, the insertion of the toxin into insect brush border membranes. The Umbrella and Penknife models predict that only alpha-helix 5 of domain I along with adjacent helices alpha-4 or alpha-6 insert into the brush border membranes because of their hydrophobic nature. By employing fluorescent-labeled cysteine mutations, we observe that all three domains of the toxin insert into the insect membrane. Using proteinase K protection assays, steady state fluorescence quenching measurements, and blue shift analysis of acrylodan-labeled cysteine mutants, we show that regions beyond those proposed by the two models insert into the membrane. Based on our studies, the only extended region that does not partition into the membrane is that of alpha-helix 1. Bioassays and voltage clamping studies show that all mutations examined, except certain domain II mutations in loop 2 (e.g. F371C and G374C), which disrupt membrane partitioning, retain their ability to form ion channels and toxicity in Manduca sexta larvae. This study confirms our earlier hypothesis that insertion of crystal toxin does not occur as separate helices alone, but virtually the entire molecule inserts as one or more units of the whole molecule.Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2008; 283(39):26324-31. · 4.77 Impact Factor
Article: Cadherin-like receptor binding facilitates proteolytic cleavage of helix alpha-1 in domain I and oligomer pre-pore formation of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab toxin.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cry toxins form lytic pores in the insect midgut cells. The role of receptor interaction in the process of protoxin activation was analyzed. Incubation of Cry1Ab protoxin with a single chain antibody that mimics the cadherin-like receptor and treatment with Manduca sexta midgut juice or trypsin, resulted in toxin preparations with high pore-forming activity in vitro. This activity correlates with the formation of a 250 kDa oligomer that lacks the helix alpha-1 of domain I. The oligomer, in contrast with the 60 kDa monomer, was capable of membrane insertion as judged by 8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonate binding. Cry1Ab protoxin was also activated to a 250 kDa oligomer by incubation with brush border membrane vesicles, presumably by the action of a membrane-associated protease. Finally, a model where receptor binding allows the efficient cleavage of alpha-1 and formation of a pre-pore oligomeric structure that is efficient in pore formation, is presented.FEBS Letters 03/2002; 513(2-3):242-6. · 3.54 Impact Factor