Non-Recessive Bt Toxin Resistance Conferred by an Intracellular Cadherin Mutation in Field-Selected Populations of Cotton Bollworm

Haonan Zhang, Shuwen Wu, Yihua Yang, Bruce E. Tabashnik, Yidong Wu

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57 Scopus citations


Transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins have been planted widely to control insect pests, yet evolution of resistance by the pests can reduce the benefits of this approach. Recessive mutations in the extracellular domain of toxin-binding cadherin proteins that confer resistance to Bt toxin Cry1Ac by disrupting toxin binding have been reported previously in three major lepidopteran pests, including the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. Here we report a novel allele from cotton bollworm with a deletion in the intracellular domain of cadherin that is genetically linked with non-recessive resistance to Cry1Ac. We discovered this allele in each of three field-selected populations we screened from northern China where Bt cotton producing Cry1Ac has been grown intensively. We expressed four types of cadherin alleles in heterologous cell cultures: susceptible, resistant with the intracellular domain mutation, and two complementary chimeric alleles with and without the mutation. Cells transfected with each of the four cadherin alleles bound Cry1Ac and were killed by Cry1Ac. However, relative to cells transfected with either the susceptible allele or the chimeric allele lacking the intracellular domain mutation, cells transfected with the resistant allele or the chimeric allele containing the intracellular domain mutation were less susceptible to Cry1Ac. These results suggest that the intracellular domain of cadherin is involved in post-binding events that affect toxicity of Cry1Ac. This evidence is consistent with the vital role of the intracellular region of cadherin proposed by the cell signaling model of the mode of action of Bt toxins. Considered together with previously reported data, the results suggest that both pore formation and cell signaling pathways contribute to the efficacy of Bt toxins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere53418
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 28 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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