The Cry1Ab toxin produced by Bacillus thuringiensis binds to a conserved structural motif in the 12th ectodomain module (EC12) of BT-R1, a cadherin G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) contained in the membrane of midgut epithelial cells of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta. Toxin binding transmits a signal into the cells and turns on a multi-step signal transduction pathway, culminating in cell death. Using chromatographically purified Cry1Ab and EC12 proteins, we demonstrated the direct formation of a stable complex between these two proteins in solution and visualized it on a native polyacrylamide gel. Moreover, we generated a fluorescent EC12 probe by converting the 36th residue to cysteine to enable maleimide-mediated conjugation of Alexa-488 fluorescent dye to EC12 by site-directed mutagenesis. In addition, we changed the 44th residue of EC12 to tryptophan, which greatly improved accuracy of protein quantification and traceability. Using the fluorescently labeled EC12 probe for direct and competitive binding assays, we were able to determine binding specificity in solution. These accomplishments will facilitate identification and characterization of the interface sequences for both the Cry1Ab toxin and BT-R1.
Keywords: C-maleimide; Cadherin; Cry1Ab; Fluorescent labeling; GPCR.