Unique activity associated with non-insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis parasporal inclusions: in vitro cell-killing action on human cancer cells


Dr Eiichi Mizuki, Biotechnology & Food Research Institute, Fukuoka Industrial Technology Centre, Aikawa-machi 1465–5, Kurume, Fukuoka 839–0861, Japan (e-mail: emizuki@bfri01.fitc.pref.fukuoka.jp).


Parasporal inclusion proteins from a total of 1744 Bacillus thuringiensis strains, consisting of 1700 Japanese isolates and 44 reference type strains of existing H serovars, were screened for cytocidal activity against human leukaemia T cells and haemolytic activity against sheep erythrocytes. Of 1684 B. thuringiensis strains having no haemolytic activity, 42 exhibited in vitro cytotoxicity against leukaemia T cells. These non-haemolytic but leukaemia cell-toxic strains belonged to several H-serovars including dakota, neoleonensis, shandongiensis, coreanensis and other unidentified serogroups. Purified parasporal inclusions of the three selected strains, designated 84-HS-1-11, 89-T-26-17 and 90-F-45-14, exhibited no haemolytic activity and no insecticidal activity against dipteran and lepidopteran insects, but were highly cytocidal against leukaemia T cells and other human cancer cells, showing different toxicity spectra and varied activity levels. Furthermore, the proteins from 84-HS-1-11 and 89-T-26-17 were able to discriminate between leukaemia and normal T cells, specifically killing the former cells. These findings may lead to the use of B. thuringiensis inclusion proteins for medical purposes.