Transgenic plants expressing combinations of microbial or plant pesticidal proteins represent a promising tool for the efficient, durable control of herbivorous insects. In this review we describe current strategies devised for the heterologous co-expression of pesticidal proteins in planta, some of which have already shown usefulness in plant protection. Emphasis is placed on protein engineering strategies involving the insertion of single DNA constructs within the host plant genome. Multimodal fusion proteins integrating complementary pesticidal functions along a unique polypeptide are first considered, taking into account the structural constraints associated with protein or protein domain grafting to biologically active proteins. Strategies that allow for the co- or post-translational release of two or more pesticidal proteins are then considered, including polyprotein precursors releasing free proteins upon proteolytic cleavage, and multicistronic transcripts for the parallel translation of single protein-encoding mRNA sequences.
Keywords: Bt plants; Cry toxins; defense proteins; fusion proteins; gene stacking; insect-resistant transgenic plants; polyproteins; protein pyramiding.