Aminopeptidase N purified from whole Manduca sexta midgut binds the Cry1Ac insecticidal toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis and this binding is inhibited by N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc). We have examined the membrane permeabilising activity of the Cry1Ac toxin using brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) prepared from the anterior (A-BBMV) and posterior (P-BBMV) subregions of the M. sexta midgut. A toxin mixing assay demonstrated a faster rate of toxin activity on P-BBMV than on A-BBMV. In the presence of GalNAc this rapid activity on P-BBMV was reduced to the rate seen with A-BBMV. GalNAc had no effect on the rate of A-BBMV permeabilisation by Cry1Ac. Aminopeptidase N assays of A- and P-BBMV demonstrated that this Cry1Ac binding protein is concentrated in the posterior midgut region of M. sexta. It therefore appears that there are two mechanisms by which Cry1Ac permeabilises the M. sexta midgut membrane: a GalNAc-sensitive mechanism restricted to the posterior midgut region, probably involving aminopeptidase N binding, and a previously undetected mechanism found in both the posterior and anterior regions.

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