Bacillus thuringiensis that produce Cry1Ba are toxic to Lucilia cuprina Wiedemann blow fly maggots in vivo, and when applied in quantity to sheep fleece, provide up to 6 wk protection against flystrike in the field. These strains also are toxic to Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) light brown apple moth caterpillars. B. thuringiensis expressing Cry1Db are toxic only to E. postvittana. When Cry1Ba and Cry1Db proteins are expressed within Escherichia coli, the recombinant bacteria have the same toxicity profile as the wild-type B. thuringiensis strain. In an effort to develop a Cry protein with improved blow fly toxicity, three different internal regions of Cry1Ba coding DNA, encoding all or part of domains I, II and III respectively were systematically exchanged with the corresponding region from a pool of other Cry protein coding DNAs. The chimeric products were then expressed in recombinant E. coli, and the resulting bacteria assayed for toxicity on L. cuprina and E. postvittana. Clones having insecticide bioactivity were characterized to identify the source of the replacement Cry domain. Despite successfully expressing a large number and variety of chimeric proteins within E. coli, many with measurable insecticidal activity, none of the chimeras had greater potency against L. cuprina than the wild-type Cry1Ba. Chimeric replacements involving domains I and II were rarely active, whereas a much higher proportion of domain III chimeras had some bioactivity. We conclude that shuffling of Cry coding regions through joining at the major conserved sequence motifs is an effective means for the production of a diverse number of chimeric Cry proteins but that such toxins with enhanced bioactive properties will be rare or nonexistent.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6