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Keywords:

  • Cry3Bb1;
  • δ-endotoxin;
  • insecticidal.

The coleopteran-active δ-endotoxin Cry3Bb1 from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain EG7231 is uniquely toxic to Diabrotica undecimpunctata, the Southern corn rootworm, while retaining activity against Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the Colorado potato beetle. The crystal structure of the δ-­endotoxin Cry3Bb1 has been refined using data collected to 2.4 Å resolution, with a residual R factor of 17.5% and an Rfree of 25.3%. The structure is made up of three domains: I, a seven-helix bundle (residues 64–294); II, a three-sheet domain (residues 295–502); and III, a β-sandwich domain (residues 503–652). The monomers in the orthorhombic C2221 crystal lattice form a dimeric quaternary structure across a crystallographic twofold axis, with a channel formed involving interactions between domains I and III. There are 23 hydrogen bonds between the two monomers conferring structural stability on the dimer. It has been demonstrated that Cry3Bb1 and the similar toxin Cry3A form oligomers in solution. The structural results presented here indicate that the interactions between domains I and III could be responsible for the initial higher order structure and have implications for the biological activity of these toxins. There are seven additional single amino-acid residues in the sequence of Cry3Bb1 compared with that of Cry3A; one in domain I, two in domain II and four in domain III, which also shows the largest conformational difference between the two proteins. These changes can be implicated in the selectivity differences noted for these two δ-endotoxins.