[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brush-border membrane vesicles and an osmotic swelling assay have been used extensively to monitor the pore-forming activity of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins. After a hypertonic shock, Manduca sexta midgut brush-border membrane vesicles shrink rapidly and reswell partially to a volume that depends on membrane permeability and toxin concentration rather than regaining their original volume as expected from theoretical models. Because efflux of buffer from the vesicles, as they shrink, could contribute to this phenomenon, vesicles were mixed with a hypertonic solution of the buffer with which they were loaded. Under these conditions, they are not expected to reswell, since the same solute is present on both sides of the membrane. Nevertheless, with several buffers, vesicles reswelled readily, an observation that demonstrates the involvement of an additional restoration force. Reswelling also occurred when, in the absence of toxin, the buffers were replaced by glucose, a solute that diffuses readily across the membrane, but did not occur with rat liver microsomes, despite their permeability to glucose. Unexpected swelling was also observed with rabbit jejunum brush-border membrane vesicles, suggesting that the cytoskeleton, present in brush-border membrane vesicles but absent from microsomes, could be responsible for the restoration force.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate whether membrane proteases are involved in the activity of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal toxins, the rate of pore formation by trypsin-activated Cry1Aa was monitored in the presence of a variety of protease inhibitors with Manduca sexta midgut brush border membrane vesicles and by a light-scattering assay. Most of the inhibitors tested had no effect on the pore-forming ability of the toxin. However, phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride, a serine protease inhibitor, promoted pore formation, although this stimulation only occurred at higher inhibitor concentrations than those commonly used to inhibit proteases. Among the metalloprotease inhibitors, o-phenanthroline had no significant effect; EDTA and EGTA reduced the rate of pore formation at pH 10.5, but only EDTA was inhibitory at pH 7.5. Neither chelator affected the properties of the pores already formed after incubation of the vesicles with the toxin. Taken together, these results indicate that, once activated, Cry1Aa is completely functional and does not require further proteolysis. The effect of EDTA and EGTA is probably better explained by their ability to chelate divalent cations that could be necessary for the stability of the toxin's receptors or involved elsewhere in the mechanism of pore formation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The combined effects of ionic strength, divalent cations, pH and toxin concentration on the pore-forming activity of Cry1Ac and Cry1Ca were studied using membrane potential measurements in isolated midguts of Manduca sexta and a brush border membrane vesicle osmotic swelling assay. The effects of ionic strength and divalent cations were more pronounced at pH 10.5 than at pH 7.5. At the higher pH, lowering ionic strength in isolated midguts enhanced Cry1Ac activity but decreased considerably that of Cry1Ca. In vesicles, Cry1Ac had a stronger pore-forming ability than Cry1Ca at a relatively low ionic strength. Increasing ionic strength, however, decreased the rate of pore formation of Cry1Ac relative to that of Cry1Ca. The activity of Cry1Ca, which was small at the higher pH, was greatly increased by adding calcium or by increasing ionic strength. EDTA inhibited Cry1Ac activity at pH 10.5, but not at pH 7.5, indicating that trace amounts of divalent cations are necessary for Cry1Ac activity at the higher pH. These results, which clearly demonstrate a strong effect of ionic strength, divalent cations and pH on the pore-forming activity of Cry1Ac and Cry1Ca, stress the importance of electrostatic interactions in the mechanism of pore formation by B. thuringiensis toxins.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A potential-sensitive fluorescent probe, 3,3'-dipropylthiadicarbocyanine iodide, was used to analyze, at pH 7.5 and 10.5, the effects of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins on the membrane potential generated by the efflux of K(+) ions from brush border membrane vesicles purified from the midgut of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Fluorescence levels were strongly influenced by the pH and ionic strength of the media. Therefore, characterization of the effects of the toxins was conducted at constant pH and ionic strength. Under these conditions, the toxins had little effect on the fluorescence levels measured in the presence or absence of ionic gradients, indicating that the ionic selectivity of their pores is similar to that of the intact membrane. Valinomycin greatly increased the potential generated by the diffusion of K(+) ions although membrane permeability to the other ions used to maintain the ionic strength constant also influenced fluorescence levels. In the presence of valinomycin, active toxins (Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, Cry1C and Cry1E) efficiently depolarized the membrane at pH 7.5 and 10.5.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pores formed by Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal toxins have been shown to allow the diffusion of a variety of monovalent cations and anions and neutral solutes. To further characterize their ion selectivity, membrane permeability induced by Cry1Aa and Cry1Ac to amino acids (Asp, Glu, Ser, Leu, His, Lys and Arg) and to divalent cations (Mg(2+), Ca(2+) and Ba(2+)) and anions (SO(4)(2-) and phosphate) was analyzed at pH 7.5 and 10.5 with midgut brush border membrane vesicles isolated from Manduca sexta and an osmotic swelling assay. Shifting pH from 7.5 to 10.5 increases the proportion of the more negatively charged species of amino acids and phosphate ions. All amino acids diffused well across the toxin-induced pores, but, except for aspartate and glutamate, amino acid permeability was lower at the higher pH. In the presence of either toxin, membrane permeability was higher for the chloride salts of divalent cations than for the potassium salts of divalent anions. These results clearly indicate that the pores are cation-selective.