UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine

Date

8-30-2016

Document Type

Article

Disciplines

Bacteriology | Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Biological Factors

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Cry6 family of proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis represents a group of powerful toxins with great potential for use in the control of coleopteran insects and of nematode parasites of importance to agriculture. These proteins are unrelated to other insecticidal toxins at the level of their primary sequences and the structure and function of these proteins has been poorly studied to date. This has inhibited our understanding of these toxins and their mode of action, along with our ability to manipulate the proteins to alter their activity to our advantage. To increase our understanding of their mode of action and to facilitate further development of these proteins we have determined the structure of Cry6Aa in protoxin and trypsin-activated forms and demonstrated a pore-forming mechanism of action.

RESULTS: The two forms of the toxin were resolved to 2.7 A and 2.0 A respectively and showed very similar structures. Cry6Aa shows structural homology to a known class of pore-forming toxins including hemolysin E from Escherichia coli and two Bacillus cereus proteins: the hemolytic toxin HblB and the NheA component of the non-hemolytic toxin (pfam05791). Cry6Aa also shows atypical features compared to other members of this family, including internal repeat sequences and small loop regions within major alpha helices. Trypsin processing was found to result in the loss of some internal sequences while the C-terminal region remains disulfide-linked to the main core of the toxin. Based on the structural similarity of Cry6Aa to other toxins, the mechanism of action of the toxin was probed and its ability to form pores in vivo in Caenorhabditis elegans was demonstrated. A non-toxic mutant was also produced, consistent with the proposed pore-forming mode of action.

CONCLUSIONS: Cry6 proteins are members of the alpha helical pore-forming toxins - a structural class not previously recognized among the Cry toxins of B. thuringiensis and representing a new paradigm for nematocidal and insecticidal proteins. Elucidation of both the structure and the pore-forming mechanism of action of Cry6Aa now opens the way to more detailed analysis of toxin specificity and the development of new toxin variants with novel activities.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: BMC Biol. 2016 Aug 30;14:71. doi: 10.1186/s12915-016-0295-9. Link to article on publisher's site

DOI of Published Version

10.1186/s12915-016-0295-9

Comments

Full author list omitted for brevity. For full list of authors see article.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Keywords

Bacillus thuringiensis, Cry6, Hemolysin, Insecticidal toxin

Journal Title

BMC biology

PubMed ID

27576487

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.