Although extensively studied, the mechanism of action of insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis Cry toxins remains elusive and requires further elucidation. Toxin receptors in the brush border membrane demand particular attention as they presumably initiate the cascade of events leading to insect mortality after toxin activation. The 170-kDa Cry1Ac toxin-binding aminopeptidase from the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) was partially purified, and its corresponding cDNA was cloned. The cDNA encodes a protein with a putative glycosyl phosphatidylinositol anchor and a polythreonine stretch clustered near the C terminus with predicted O-glycosylation. Partial purification of the 170-kDa aminopeptidase also resulted in isolation of a 130-kDa protein that was immunologically identical to the 170-kDa protein, and the two proteins had identical N termini. These proteins were glycosylated, as suggested by soybean agglutinin lectin blot results. Cry1Ac toxin affinity data for the two proteins indicated that the 130-kDa protein had a higher affinity than the 170-kDa protein. The data suggest that posttranslational modifications can have a significant effect on Cry1A toxin interactions with specific insect midgut proteins
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