Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

July 1987


Published in JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, JULY 1987, P. 3281-3288 Vol. 169, No. 7. Copyright © 1987, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


We examined disulfide bonds in mosquito larvicidal crystals produced by Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis. Intact crystals contained 2.01 x 10-8 mol of free sulfhydryls and 3.24 x 10--8 mol of disulfides per mg of protein. Reduced samples of alkali-solubilized crystals resolved into several proteins, the most prominent having apparent molecular sizes of 28, 70, 135, and 140 kilodaltons (kDa). Non-reduced samples contained two new proteins of 52 and 26 kDa. When reduced, both the 52- and 26-kDa proteins were converted to 28-kDa proteins. Furthermore, both bands reacted with antiserum prepared against reduced 28-kDa protein. Approximately 50% of the crystal proteins could be solubilized without disulfide cleavage. These proteins were 70 kDa or smaller. Solubilization of the 135- and 140-kDa proteins required disulfide cleavage. Incubation of crystals at pH 12.0 for 2 h cleaved 40% of the disulfide bonds and solubilized 83% of the crystal protein. Alkali-stable disulfides were present in both the soluble and insoluble portions. The insoluble pellet contained 12 to 14 disulfides per 100 kDa of protein and was devoid of sulfhydryl groups. Alkali-solubilized proteins contained both intrachain and interchain disulfide bonds. Despite their structural significance, it is unlikely that disulfide bonds are involved in the formation or release of the larvicidal toxin.

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