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Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis linked with a cadherin transmembrane mutation affecting cellular trafficking in pink bollworm from China

Ling Wang, Yuemin Ma, Peng Wan, Kaiyu Liu, Yutao Xiao, Jintao Wang, Shengbo Cong, Dong Xu, Kongming Wu, Jeffrey A. Fabrick, Xianchun Li, Bruce E. Tabashnik
Insect biochemistry and molecular biology 2018 v.94 pp. 28-35
Bacillus thuringiensis, Gram-positive bacteria, Pectinophora gossypiella, alleles, cadherins, cell membranes, cotton, cross resistance, crystal proteins, homozygosity, insecticidal proteins, insects, larvae, midgut, mutants, mutation, pest resistance, pests, river valleys, transgenic plants, China, Yangtze River
Evolution of pest resistance reduces the efficacy of insecticidal proteins from the gram-positive bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) used widely in sprays and transgenic crops. In some previously studied strains of three major lepidopteran pests, resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac is associated with mutations disrupting the extracellular or cytoplasmic domains of cadherin proteins that bind Cry1Ac in the midgut of susceptible larvae. Here we report the first case of a cadherin transmembrane mutation associated with insect resistance to Bt. We discovered this mutation in a strain of the devastating global cotton pest, the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), derived from a field population in the Yangtze River Valley of China. The mutant allele analyzed here has a 207 base pair deletion and encodes a cadherin protein lacking its transmembrane domain. Relative to a susceptible strain, a strain homozygous for this allele had 220-fold resistance to Cry1Ac and 2.1-fold cross-resistance to Cry2Ab. On transgenic cotton plants producing Cry1Ac, no susceptible larvae survived, but the resistant strain completed its life cycle. Inheritance of resistance to Cry1Ac was autosomal, recessive and tightly linked with the cadherin gene. Transportation of cadherin protein to the cell membrane and susceptibility to Cry1Ac occurred in transfected insect cells expressing the wild type cadherin allele, but not in transfected insect cells expressing the mutant cadherin allele. The results imply that the mutant allele analyzed here confers resistance to Cry1Ac by disrupting cellular trafficking of cadherin.