Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor John A. Gatehouse

Yang, S., Pyati, P., Fitches, E. & Gatehouse, J.A. (2014). A recombinant fusion protein containing a spider toxin specific for the insect voltage-gated sodium ion channel shows oral toxicity towards insects of different orders. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 47: 1-11.

Author(s) from Durham


Recombinant fusion protein technology allows specific insecticidal protein and peptide toxins to display activity in orally-delivered biopesticides. The spider venom peptide δ-amaurobitoxin-PI1a, which targets insect voltage-gated sodium channels, was fused to the “carrier” snowdrop lectin (GNA) to confer oral toxicity.

The toxin itself (PI1a) and an amaurobitoxin/GNA fusion protein (PI1a/GNA) were produced using the yeast Pichia pastoris as expression host. Although both proteins caused mortality when injected into cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae) larvae, the PI1a/GNA fusion was approximately 6 times as effective as recombinant PI1a on a molar basis. PI1a alone was not orally active against cabbage moth larvae, but a single 30 μg dose of the PI1a/GNA fusion protein caused 100% larval mortality within 6 days when fed to 3rd instar larvae, and caused significant reductions in survival, growth and feeding in 4th – 6th instar larvae. Transport of fusion protein from gut contents to the haemolymph of cabbage moth larvae, and binding to the nerve chord, was shown by Western blotting. The PI1a/GNA fusion protein also caused mortality when delivered orally to dipteran (Musca domestica; housefly) and hemipteran (Acyrthosiphon pisum; pea aphid) insects, making it a promising candidate for development as a biopesticide.