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Localization of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A toxin-binding molecules in gypsy moth larval gut sections using fluorescence microscopy

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Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 108: 69-75.


The microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) produces Cry toxins, proteins that bind to the brush border membranes of gut epithelial cells of insects that ingest it, disrupting the integrity of the membranes, and leading to cell lysis and insect death. In gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, two toxin-binding molecules for the Cry1A class of Bt toxins have been identified: an aminopeptidase N (APN-1) and a 270 kDa anionic glycoconjugate (BTR-270). Studies have shown that APN-1 has a relatively weak affinity and a very narrow specificity to Cry1Ac, the only Cry1A toxin that it binds. In contrast, BTR-270 binds all toxins that are active against L. dispar larvae, and the affinities for these toxins to BTR-270 correlate positively with their respective toxicities. In this study, an immunohistochemical approach was coupled with fluorescence microscopy to localize APN-1 and BTR-270 in paraffin embedded midgut sections of L. dispar larvae. The distribution of cadherin and alkaline phosphatase in the gut tissue was also examined. A strong reaction indicative of polyanionic material was detected with alcian blue staining over the entire epithelial brush border, suggesting the presence of acidic glycoconjugates in the microvillar matrix. The Cry1A toxin-binding sites were confined to the apical surface of the gut epithelial cells with intense labeling of the apical tips of the microvilli. APN-1, BTR-270, and alkaline phosphatase were found to be present exclusively along the brush border microvilli along the entire gut epithelium. In contrast, cadherin, detected only in older gypsy moth larvae, was present both in the apical brush border and in the basement membrane anchoring the midgut epithelial cells. The topographical relationship between the Bt Cry toxin-binding molecules BTR-270 and APN-1 and the Cry1A toxin-binding sites that were confined to the apical brush border of the midgut cells is consistent with findings implicating their involvement in the mechanism of the action of Bt Cry toxins.


Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A toxin-binding receptor; Lymantria dispar; Fluorescence microscopy


Valaitis, Algimantas P. 2011. Localization of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A toxin-binding molecules in gypsy moth larval gut sections using fluorescence microscopy. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 108: 69-75.

Last updated on: September 1, 2011