Glycolipids as Receptors for Bacillus thuringiensis Crystal Toxin

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Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 922-925
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104444

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The development of pest resistance threatens the effectiveness of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins used in transgenic and organic farming. Here, we demonstrate that (i) the major mechanism for Bt toxin resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans entails a loss of glycolipid carbohydrates; (ii) Bt toxin directly and specifically binds glycolipids; and (iii) this binding is carbohydrate-dependent and relevant for toxin action in vivo. These carbohydrates contain the arthroseries core conserved in insects and nematodes but lacking in vertebrates. We present evidence that insect glycolipids are also receptors for Bt toxin.

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