Anti-cancer Parasporin Toxins are Associated with Different Environments: Discovery of Two Novel Parasporin 5-like Genes

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Cry toxins are primarily a family of insecticidal toxins produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). However, some Cry toxins, called parasporins (PSs), are non-insecticidal and have been shown to differentially kill human cancer cells. Based on amino acid homology, there are currently six different classes of parasporins (PS1-6). It is not known what role parasporins play in nature, nor if certain PSs are associated with Bt found in particular environments. Herein, we present ten parasporin-containing isolates of Bt from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Genes coding for PS1 and PS6 were found in isolates associated mainly with artificial aquatic environments (e.g., barrels with rain water), while Bt possessing two novel PS5-like genes (ps5-1 and ps5-2), were isolated from manure collected directly from the rectum of cattle. The amino acid sequences inferred from the two PS5-like genes were 51 % homologous to each other, while being only 41 or 45 % similar to PS5Aa1/Cry64Aa, the only reported member of the parasporin five class. The low level of amino acid homology between the two PS5-like genes and PS5Aa1 indicate that the two PS5-like genes may represent a new class of parasporins, or greatly expand the level of diversity within the current parasporin 5 class.


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Curr Microbiol