Midgut juice components affect pore formation by the Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal toxin Cry9Ca.J Invertebr Pathol. 2010 Jul; 104(3):203-8.JI
The pore-forming ability of the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Cry9Ca, its two single-site mutants R164A and R164K, and the 55-kDa fragment resulting from its proteolytic cleavage at R164 was evaluated under a variety of experimental conditions using an electrophysiological assay. All four toxin preparations depolarized the apical membrane of freshly isolated third-instar Manduca sexta midguts bathing in a solution containing 122 mM KCl at pH 10.5, but the 55-kDa fragment was considerably more active than Cry9Ca and its mutants. The activity of the latter toxins was greatly enhanced, however, when the experiments were conducted in the presence of fifth-instar M. sexta midgut juice. This effect was also observed after midgut juice proteins had been denatured by heating at 95 degrees C or after inorganic ions and small molecules had been removed from the midgut juice by extensive dialysis. A similar stimulation of toxin activity was also observed when the experiments were carried out in the presence of the lipids extracted from an equivalent volume of midgut juice. Depolarization of the cell membrane was also greatly enhanced, in the absence of midgut juice, by the addition of a cocktail of water-soluble protease inhibitors. These results indicate that, depending on the cleavage site and on the experimental conditions used, further proteolysis of the activated Cry9Ca toxin can either stimulate or be detrimental to its activity and that M. sexta midgut juice probably contains protease inhibitors that could play a major role in the activity of B. thuringiensis toxins in the insect midgut.