Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

November 1987


Published in APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Nov. 1987, p. 2650-2655 Vol. 53, No. 11. Copyright 1987, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


The mosquito-active protein crystals produced by Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis contain covalently attached aminosugars which are critical for their larvicidal activity. The 50% lethal concentrations toward Aedes aegypti larvae were increased up to 10-fold by mild periodate treatment, up to 40-fold by forming the protein crystals in the presence of tunicamycin, and up to 7-fold by the presence during the mosquito bioassays of N-acetylglucosamine or its trimer, triacetylchitotriose. Periodate-treated crystals and crystals formed in the presence of tunicamycin had greatly reduced binding capacities for wheat germ agglutinin, an Nacetylglucosamine- specific lectin. These results suggest that the B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis glycoprotein toxin binds to a lectinlike receptor in the larval mosquito gut. Furthermore, the distinct lectin-binding patterns exhibited by diptera-active versus lepidoptera-active B. thuringiensis crystals suggest that host specificity for the microbial insecticides is determined, in part, by the carbohydrate portion of their glycoprotein crystals.

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