Expression of a Recombinant Cry1Ac Crystal Protein Fused with a Green Fluorescent Protein in Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki
To investigate the co-expression and crystallization of a fusion gene between the Bacillus thuringiensis crystal protein and a foreign protein in B. thuringiensis, the expression of the Cry1Ac fused with green fluorescent protein (GFP) genes in a B. thuringiensis $Cry^-B$ strain was examined. The cry1Ac gene was cloned in the B. thuringiensis-E. coli shuttle vector, pHT3101, under the control of the native cry1Ac gene promoter, while the GFP gene was inserted into the XhoI site upstream of the proteolytic cleavage site, in the middle region of the crylAc gene (pProAc-GFP). The B. thuringiensis $Cry^-B$ strain carrying pProAc-GFP (ProAc-GFP/CB) did not produce any inclusion bodies. However, the transformed strain expressed fusion protein forms although the expression level was relatively low. Furthermore, an immunoblot analysis using GFP and Cry1Ac antibodies showed that the fusion protein was not a single species, but rather multiple forms. In addition, the N-terminal fragment of Cry1Ac and a non-fused GFP were also found in the B. thuringiensis $Cry^-B$ strain after autolysis. The sporulated cells before autolysis and the spore-crystal mixture after autolysis of ProAc-GFP/CB exhibited insecticidal activities against Plutella xylostella larvae. Accordingly, the current results suggest that a fusion crystal protein produced by the transfomant, ProAc-GFP/CB, can be functionally expressed but easily degraded in B. thuringiensis.
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