A new Cry toxin with a unique two-component dependency from Bacillus sphaericus

Gareth W Jones, Christina Nielsen-Leroux, Yankun Yang, Zhiming Yuan, Vinícius Fiúza Dumas, Rose Gomes Monnerat, Colin Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Highly pathogenic strains of Bacillus sphaericus produce the mosquitocidal Bin proteins, but resistance to this toxin can be produced under laboratory and field conditions. Analysis of strains able to overcome this resistance revealed the presence of a previously undescribed type of two-component toxin. One subunit, Cry48Aa1, is related to the 3-domain crystal toxins of Bacillus thuringiensis. Uniquely for this type of protein, insect toxicity is only achieved in the presence of a second, accessory protein, Cry49Aa1. This protein is itself related to both the binary toxin of B. sphaericus and to Cry35 and Cry36 of B. thuringiensis, none of which require interaction with Cry48Aa1-like proteins for their activity. The necessity for both Cry48Aa1 and Cry49Aa1 components for pathogenicity, therefore, indicates an unprecedented interaction to generate toxicity. Despite high potency for purified Cry48Aa1/Cry49Aa1 proteins (LC50 for third instar Culex quinquefasciatus larvae: 15.9 ng/ml and 6.3 ng/ml respectively), bacteria producing them show suboptimal mosquitocidal activity due to low-level Cry48Aa1 production. This new toxin combination may indicate a fortuitous combination of members of the gene families that encode 3-domain Cry toxins and Binary-like toxins, permitting the "mix-and-match" evolution of a new component in the mosquitocidal armoury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4112-20
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacillus/chemistry
  • Bacillus thuringiensis/pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Proteins/genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins/genetics
  • Culex/microbiology
  • Endotoxins/chemistry
  • Hemolysin Proteins/chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data


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