Full expression of the cryIIIA toxin gene of Bacillus thuringiensis requires a distant upstream DNA sequence affecting transcription

De Souza, M.T.; Lecadet, M.M.; Lereclus, D.

Journal of Bacteriology 175(10): 2952-2960


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-9193
PMID: 8491716
DOI: 10.1128/jb.175.10.2952-2960.1993
Accession: 002624008

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The cryIIIA gene encoding a coleopteran-specific toxin is poorly expressed in Bacillus thuringiensis when cloned in a low-copy-number plasmid. This weak expression is observed when the gene is cloned only with its promoter and its putative terminator. cryIIIA gene expression was analyzed by using deletion derivatives of a larger DNA fragment carrying the toxin gene and additional adjacent sequences. The results indicate that a 1-kb DNA fragment located 400 bp upstream of the promoter strongly enhances CryIIIA production in B. thuringiensis sporulating cells. Similar results were obtained when the low-copy-number plasmid pHT304 carrying transcriptional fusions between upstream regions of cryIIIA and the lacZ gene was used. Analysis of the start sites, the sizes, and the amounts of cryIIIA-specific mRNAs shows that the enhancement occurs at the transcriptional level by increasing the number of cryIIIA-specific transcripts from the onset of sporulation to about 6 h after the onset of sporulation. The nucleotide sequence of the 1-kb activating fragment and of the 700 bp containing the promoter region and the 5' end of cryIIIA were determined. No potential protein-coding sequences were found upstream of the promoter. The major characteristic of the 1-kb activating fragment is the presence of a 220-bp A + T-rich region.