Biochemical, immunological and toxicological characteristics of the crystal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. medellin.
Characterization of the insecticidal and hemolytic activity of solubilized crystal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) subsp. medellin (Btmed) was performed and compared to solubilized crystal proteins of isolates 1884 of B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis (Bti) and isolate PG-14 of B. thuringiensis subsp. morrisoni (Btm). In general, at acid pH values solubilization of the Bt crystalline parasporal inclusions (CPI) was lower than at alkaline pH. The larvicidal activity demonstrated by the CPI of Btmed indicated that optimal solubilization of CPI takes place at a pH value of 11.3, in Bti at pH values from 5.03 to 11.3 and in Btm at pH values from 9.05 to 11.3 Hemolytic activity against sheep red blood cells was mainly found following extraction at pH 11.3 in all Bt strains tested. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under denaturing conditions revealed that optimal solubilization of the CPI in all Bt strains takes place at the alkaline pH values from 9.05 to 11.3. An enriched preparation of Btmed crystals was obtained, solubilized and crystal proteins were separated on a size exclusion column (Sephacryl S-200). Three main protein peaks were observed on the chromatogram. The first peak had two main proteins that migrate between 90 to 100 kDa. These proteins are apparently not common to other Bt strains isolated to date. The second and third peaks obtained from the size exclusion column yielded polypeptides of 68 and 28-30 kDa, respectively. Each peak independently, showed toxicity against 1st instar Culex quinquefasciatus larvae. Interestingly, combinations of the fractions corresponding to the 68 and 30 kDa protein showed an increased toxicity. These results suggest that the 94 kDa protein is an important component of the Btmed toxins with the highest potency to kill mosquito larvae. When crystal proteins of Bti were probed with antisera raised independently against the three main protein fractions of Btmed, the only crystal protein that showed cross reaction was the 28 kDa protein. These data suggest that Btmed could be an alternative bacterium for mosquito control programs in case mosquito larval resistance emerges to Bti toxic proteins.
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