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Effects of the 20-kilodalton helper protein on Cry1Ac production and spore formation in Bacillus thuringiensis. [Erratum: 2003 Feb., v. 69, no. 2, p. 1335.]

Shao, Z., Liu, Z., Yu, Z.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2001 v.67 no.12 pp. 5362-5369
genetic transformation, gene transfer, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis, protein synthesis, bacterial spores, insecticidal properties, crystals, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki, binding proteins, bacterial proteins, genes, crystal proteins, larvae, protein degradation
Bacillus thuringiensis produces large amounts of various pesticidal proteins during the stationary phase. In order to achieve a high yield and form crystals, some pesticidal proteins require the presence of other proteins. Helper protein P20 is required for efficient production of both the Cyt1A and Cry11A crystal proteins in B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis. Although full-length Cry1 protoxins are usually independent in terms of expression and crystallization in B. thuringiensis, in this study P20 significantly enhanced production of Cry1Ac protoxin (133 kDa) in an acrystalliferous and plasmid-negative strain. In the presence of P20, the yield of Cry1Ac protoxin increased 2.5-fold, and on average the resulting crystals were 1.85 micrometer long and 0.85 micrometer wide, three times the size of the crystals formed in the control lacking P20. Correspondingly, the recombinant strain that coexpressed P20 and Cry1Ac exhibited higher toxicity against Heliothis armigera larvae than the control. Furthermore, serious degradation of Cry1Ac in vivo was observed, which has seldom been reported previously. Actually, most protein was completely degraded during synthesis, and after synthesis about one-third of the expressed protoxins were degraded further before crystallization. In this process, P20 protected only nascent Cry1Ac from degradation, indicating that it acted as a molecular chaperon. In addition, spores were smaller and rounder and had a thinner exosporium layer when they were produced in the presence of P20. In summary, Cry1Ac was severely degraded during synthesis; this degradation was effectively relieved by P20, which resulted in enhanced production. Our results indicated that P20 is an effective tool for optimizing protein production in vivo.