Alanine scanning analyses of the three major loops in domain II of Bacillus thuringiensis mosquitocidal toxin cry4Aa

Mohammad Tofazzal Hossain Howlader, Yasuhiro Kagawa, Ai Miyakawa, Ayaka Yamamoto, Tetsuya Taniguchi, Tohru Hayakawa, Hiroshi Sakai

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Cry4Aa produced by Bacillus thuringiensis Is a dipteran-specific toxin and is of great interest for developing a bioinsecticide to control mosquitoes. Therefore, it is very important to characterize the functional motif of Cry4Aa that is responsible for its mosquitocidal activity. In this study, to characterize a potential receptor binding site, namely, loops 1, 2, and 3 in domain II, we constructed a series of Cry4Aa mutants in which a residue in these three loops was replaced with alanine. A bioassay using Culex pipiens larvae revealed that replacement of some residues affected the mosquitocidal activity of Cry4Aa, but the effect was limited. This finding was partially inconsistent with previous results which suggested that replacement of the Cry4Aa loop 2 results in a significant loss of mosquitocidal activity. Therefore, we constructed additional mutants in which multiple (five or six) residues in loop 2 were replaced with alanine. Although the replacement of multiple residues also resulted in some decrease in mosquitocidal activity, the mutants still showed relatively high activity. Since the insecticidal spectrum of Cry4Aa is specific, Cry4Aa must have a specific receptor on the surface of the target tissue, and loss of binding to the receptor should result in a complete loss of mosquitocidal activity. Our results suggested that, unlike the receptor binding site of the well-characterized molecule Cry1, the receptor binding site of Cry4Aa is different from loops 1, 2, and 3 or that there are multiple binding sites that work cooperatively for receptor binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-865
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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