A sporulating culture ofBacillus thuringiensis subsp.kenyae strain HD549 is toxic to larvae of lepidopteran insect species such asSpodoptera litura, Helicoverpa armigera andPhthorimaea operculella, and a dipteran insect,Culex fatigans. A 1.9-kb DNA fragment, PCR-amplified from HD549 using cryII-gene-specific primers, was cloned and expressed inE. coli. The recombinant protein produced 92% mortality in first-instar larvae ofSpodoptera litura and 86% inhibition of adult emergence inPhthorimaea operculella, but showed very low toxicity againstHelicoverpa armigera, and lower mortality against third-instar larvae of dipteran insectsCulex fatigans, Anopheles stephensi andAedes aegypti. The sequence of the cloned crystal protein gene showed almost complete homology with a mosquitocidal toxin gene fromBacillus thuringiensis var.kurstaki, with only five mutations scattered in different regions. Amino acid alignment with different insecticidal crystal proteins using the MUTALIN program suggested presence of the conserved block 3 region in the sequence of this protein. A mutation in codon 409 of this gene that changes a highly conserved phenylalanine residue to serine lies in this block.
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