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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Targeting of an expressed neurotoxin by its recombinant baculovirus.

AaIT, an insect-selective neurotoxic polypeptide derived from scorpion venom, has recently been used to engineer recombinant baculoviruses for insect pest control. Lepidopterous larvae infected with an AaIT-expressing baculovirus reveal symptoms of paralysis identical to those induced by injection of the native toxin. However, the paralyzed larvae treated by the recombinant virus possess an approximately 50-fold lower hemolymph toxin concentration than insects paralyzed by the native toxin. The mechanism of this potentiation effect was studied using immunocytochemistry, electrophysiology and toxicity assays. (i) Light microscopy, using peroxidase-conjugated antibodies, revealed the presence of toxin in virus-susceptible tissues, including tracheal epithelia located close to the central nervous system and beyond its lamellar enveloping sheath. (ii) High-resolution immunogold electron microscopical cytochemistry clearly revealed the presence of recombinant AaIT toxin inside the thoracic and abdominal ganglia on neuronal cell bodies and axonal membranes. (iii) Ventral nerve cords dissected from silkworm larvae infected with the recombinant baculovirus exhibited a high degree of excitability, expressed as enhanced frequency and bursting mode of their spontaneous activity, when compared to nerve cords infected with the wild-type virus. We conclude that the recombinant-virus-infected tracheal epithelia, outbranching in the body of an infected insect, (i) locally supply a continuous, freshly produced toxin to its neuronal receptors and (ii) introduce the expressed toxin to the insect central nervous system, thus providing it with critical target sites that are inaccessible to the native toxin.[1]


  1. Targeting of an expressed neurotoxin by its recombinant baculovirus. Elazar, M., Levi, R., Zlotkin, E. J. Exp. Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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