The Binary (Bin) toxin from the entomopathogenic bacterium Lysinibacillus sphaericus acts on larvae of the culicid Culex quinquefasciatus through its binding to Cqm1, a midgut-bound ?-glucosidase. Specific binding by the BinB subunit to the Cqm1 receptor is essential for toxicity however the toxin is unable to bind to the Cqm1 ortholog from the refractory species Aedes aegypti (Aam1). Here, to investigate the molecular basis for the interaction between Cqm1 and BinB, recombinant Cqm1 and Aam1 were first expressed as soluble forms in Sf9 cells. The two proteins were found to display the same glycosilation patterns and BinB binding properties as the native ?-glucosidases. Chimeric constructs were then generated through the exchange of reciprocal fragments between the corresponding cqm1 and aam1 cDNAs. Subsequent expression and binding experiments defined a Cqm1 segment encompassing residues S129 and A312 as critical for the interaction with BinB. Through site directed mutagenesis experiments, replacing specific sets of residues from Cqm1 with those of Aam1, the 159GG160 doublet was required for this interaction. Molecular modeling mapped these residues to an exposed loop within the Cqm1's structure, compatible with a target site for BinB and providing a possible explanation for its lack of binding to Aam1.
Heterodimeric binary (Bin) toxin, the major insecticidal protein from Bacillus sphaericus, acts on Culex quinquefasciatus larvae through specific binding to the midgut receptor Cqm1, a role mediated by its 448-amino-acid-long BinB subunit. The molecular basis for receptor recognition is not well understood and this study attempted to identify protein segments and amino acid motifs within BinB that are required for this event. First, N- and C-terminally truncated constructs were evaluated for their capacity to bind to native Cqm1 through pull-down assays. These showed that residues N33 to L158 of the subunit are required for Cqm1 binding. Nine different full-length mutants were then generated in which selected blocks of three amino acids were replaced by alanines. In new pull-down assays, two mutants, in which residues (85) IRF(87) and (147) FQF(149) were targeted, failed to bind the receptor. Competition binding assays confirmed the requirements for the N-terminal 158 residues, and the (147) FQF(149) epitope, for the mutant proteins to compete with native Bin toxin when binding to membrane fractions from the insect midgut. The data from this work rule out the involvement of C-terminal segments in receptor binding, highlighting the need for multiple elements within the proteins N-terminal third for it to occur.
Aedes aegypti larvae are refractory to the insecticidal binary (Bin) toxin from Bacillus sphaericus, which is not able to bind to its target tissue in the larval midgut. In contrast, Culex pipiens larvae are highly susceptible to that toxin, which targets its midgut brush border membranes (BBMF) through the binding of the BinB subunit to specific receptors, the Cpm1/Cqm1 membrane-bound ?-glucosidases. The identification of an Ae. aegypti gene encoding a Cpm1/Cqm1 orthologue, here named Aam1, led to the major goal of this study which was to investigate its expression. The aam1 transcript was found in larvae and adults from Ae. aegypti and a ?73-kDa protein was recognized by an anti-Cqm1 antibody in midgut BBMF. The Aam1 protein displayed ?-glucosidase activity and localized to the midgut epithelium, bound through a GPI anchor, similarly to Cpm1/Cqm1. However, no binding of native Aam1 was observed to the recombinant BinB subunit. Treatment of both proteins with endoglycosidase led to changes in the molecular weight of Aam1, but not Cqm1, implying that the former was glycosylated. The findings from this work rule out lack of receptors in larval stages, or its expression as soluble proteins, as a reason for Ae. aegypti refractoriness to Bin toxin.
Bacillus sphaericus binary toxin action on Culex quinquefasciatus larvae relies on the binding to Cqm1alpha-glucosidases, which act as midgut receptors. Resistance of two laboratory-selected colonies is associated with the allele cqm1(REC) that prevents Cqm1 expression as membrane-bound molecules. This study evaluated stability of resistance after the interruption of selection pressure and introduction of susceptible individuals in these colonies. Bioassays showed that frequency of resistant larvae did not decrease throughout 11 generations, under these conditions, and it was associated to a similar frequency of larvae lacking the Cqm1alpha-glucosidase receptor, detected by in gel enzymatic assays. Direct screening of the cqm1(REC) allele, by specific PCR, showed that its frequency remained stable throughout 11 generations. Parental resistant colony did not display biological costs regarding fecundity, fertility and pupal weight and data from susceptibility assays, enzymatic assays and PCR screening showed that cqm1(REC) was not disfavored in competition with the susceptible allele and persisted in the progenies, in the lack of selection pressure. Characterization of molecular basis of resistance is essential for developing diagnostic tools and data have relevant implication for the establishment of strategies for resistance management.
The Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa mosquitocidal two-component toxin was recently characterized from Bacillus sphaericus strain IAB59 and is uniquely composed of a three-domain Cry protein toxin (Cry48Aa) and a binary (Bin) toxin-like protein (Cry49Aa). Its mode of action has not been elucidated, but a remarkable feature of this protein is the high toxicity against species from the Culex complex, besides its capacity to overcome Culex resistance to the Bin toxin, the major insecticidal factor in B. sphaericus-based larvicides. The goal of this work was to investigate the ultrastructural effects of Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa on midgut cells of Bin-toxin-susceptible and -resistant Culex quinquefasciatus larvae. The major cytopathological effects observed after Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa treatment were intense mitochondrial vacuolation, breakdown of endoplasmic reticulum, production of cytoplasmic vacuoles, and microvillus disruption. These effects were similar in Bin-toxin-susceptible and -resistant larvae and demonstrated that Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa toxin interacts with and displays toxic effects on cells lacking receptors for the Bin toxin, while B. sphaericus IAB59-resistant larvae did not show mortality after treatment with Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa toxin. The cytopathological alterations in Bin-toxin-resistant larvae provoked by Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa treatment were similar to those observed when larvae were exposed to a synergistic mixture of Bin/Cry11Aa toxins. Such effects seemed to result from a combined action of Cry-like and Bin-like toxins. The complex effects caused by Cry48Aa/Cry49Aa provide evidence for the potential of these toxins as active ingredients of a new generation of biolarvicides that conjugate insecticidal factors with distinct sites of action, in order to manage mosquito resistance.
The activity of the Bacillus sphaericus binary (Bin) toxin on Culex quinquefasciatus larvae depends on its specific binding to the Cqm1 receptor, a midgut membrane-bound alpha-glucosidase. A 19-nucleotide deletion in the cqm1 gene (cqm1(REC)) mediates high-level resistance to Bin toxin. Here, resistance in nontreated and B. sphaericus-treated field populations of C. quinquefasciatus was assessed through bioassays as well as a specific PCR assay designed to detect the cqm1(REC) allele in individual larvae. Resistance ratios at 90% lethal concentration, gathered through bioassays, were close to 1 and indicate that the selected populations had similar levels of susceptibility to B. sphaericus, comparable to that of a laboratory colony. A diagnostic PCR assay detected the cqm1(REC) allele in all populations investigated, and its frequency in two nontreated areas was 0.006 and 0.003, while the frequency in the B. sphaericus-treated population was significantly higher. Values of 0.053 and 0.055 were detected for two distinct sets of samples, and homozygote resistant larvae were found. Evaluation of Cqm1 expression in individual larvae through alpha-glucosidase assays corroborated the allelic frequency revealed by PCR. The data from this study indicate that the cqm1(REC) allele was present at a detectable frequency in nontreated populations, while the higher frequency in samples from the treated area is, perhaps, correlated with the exposure to B. sphaericus. This is the first report of the molecular detection of a biolarvicide resistance allele in mosquito populations, and it confirms that the PCR-based approach is suitable to track such alleles in target populations.
Bin toxin from Bacillus sphaericus acts on Culex quinquefasciatus larvae by binding to Cqm1 midgut-bound receptors, and disruption of the cqm1 gene is the major cause of resistance. The goal of this work was to screen for a laboratory-selected resistance cqm1(REC) allele in field populations in the city of Recife, Brazil, and to describe other resistance-associated polymorphisms in the cqm1 gene. The cqm1(REC) allele was detected in the four nontreated populations surveyed at frequencies from 0.001 to 0.017, and sequence analysis from these samples revealed a novel resistant allele (cqm1(REC-D16)) displaying a 16-nucletotide (nt) deletion which is distinct from the 19-nt deletion associated with cqm1(REC). Yet a third resistant allele (cqm1(REC-D25)), displaying a 25-nt deletion, was identified in samples from a treated area exposed to B. sphaericus. A comparison of the three deletion events revealed that all are located within the same 208-nt region amplified during the screening procedure. They also introduce equivalent frameshifts in the sequence and generate the same premature stop codon, leading to putative transcripts encoding truncated proteins which are unable to locate to the midgut epithelium. The populations analyzed in this study contained a variety of alleles with mutations disrupting the function of the corresponding Bin toxin receptor. Their locations reveal a hot spot that can be exploited to assess the resistance risk through DNA screening.
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