Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Secret of Worm’s Poison Pill Box Protein Could Produce New Natural Insecticide

13.03.2007
Researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered how a protein from a bacterium acts like a cunningly designed poison pill box that could now be used as a basis of a new range of natural insecticides.

It had been known that nematode worms can infect and kill insect pests with the help of a bacterium which they harbour inside their intestine.

The bacterium uses a protein (XptA1) a toxin which helps the nematode to kill and feed on the dead body of the insect. The toxin not only kills the target insect but prevents other predators from eating the body giving free reign to the nematode worms to consume it, multiply and move on. However, until now, researchers had little idea of the make up of XptA1 and thus how it worked. The research team, based at the University of Warwick’s horticultural research arm Warwick HRI, have now been able to reveal the shape of the protein XptA1 and discovered a number of properties that make it a particularly efficient natural insecticide and possible alternative to some commercial insecticides that are facing increased resistance in the insect populations they target.

The researchers at Warwick HRI, together with a team of colleagues with expertise in the Structural Biology group in Biological Sciences and in Chemistry at The University of Warwick, as well as Coventry and Nottingham Universities, found that the protein was formed from four sub units in the shape of a hollow cage or box which is configured to bind well to part of a caterpillar’s gut called “Brush Border Membrane Vesicles” (BBMV).

The XptA1 protein seemed to specifically target the BBMV of caterpillars Pieris Brassicae – (The cabbage white butterfly caterpillar which are pests for many growers). The hollow box structure appears to be a key element of the protein’s design. The hollow shape allows the protein to act as a receptacle for two other proteins (in the case of XptA1 these are XptB1 and XptC1). This forms a poison “complex” which makes the XptA1 300 times more toxic to the caterpillars than it would be by itself. As well as helping collect together the three proteins and attach them to the insect’s gut the researchers think that the box shape of the XptA1 protein possibly also helps protect the poison complex from the acid attack they would face from the high pH values in the insect gut. The researchers also discovered that, while XptA1 was highly selective in that it bound to the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar, there were variants of this family of toxic proteins (such as XptA2) that targeted other insects.

Dr Sarah Lee from the University of Warwick said: “This research gives us crucial new insights into a family of naturally occurring proteins that are toxic to a number of insect pests. They offer an alternative to current commercial protein based insect toxins have been in use for 40 years and are now starting to meet some resistance. This potential new family of protein based insecticides would overcome such resistance as they operate in an entirely different way”

The research has been published in the 9th March issue of The Journal of Molecular Biology Volume 366 Issue 5 pages 1558 – 1568. The paper is titled “Structural Characterisation of the Insecticidal Toxin XptA1, Reveals a 1.15 MDa Tetramer with a Cage-like Structure”

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/secret_of_worms/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified

05.12.2016 | Information Technology

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>