A single transcription factor facilitates an insect host combating Bacillus thuringiensis infection while maintaining fitness

Zhaojiang Guo, Le Guo, Jianying Qin, Fan Ye, Dan Sun, Qingjun Wu, Shaoli Wang, Neil Crickmore, Xuguo Zhou, Alejandra Bravo, Mario Soberón, Youjun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Maintaining fitness during pathogen infection is vital for host survival as an excessive response can be as detrimental as the infection itself. Fitness costs are frequently associated with insect hosts countering the toxic effect of the entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which delay the evolution of resistance to this pathogen. The insect pest Plutella xylostella has evolved a mechanism to resist Bt toxins without incurring significant fitness costs. Here, we reveal that non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated forms of a MAPK-modulated transcription factor fushi tarazu factor 1 (FTZ-F1) can respectively orchestrate down-regulation of Bt Cry1Ac toxin receptors and up-regulation of non-receptor paralogs via two distinct binding sites, thereby presenting Bt toxin resistance without growth penalty. Our findings reveal how host organisms can co-opt a master molecular switch to overcome pathogen invasion with low cost, and contribute to understanding the underlying mechanism of growth-defense tradeoffs during host-pathogen interactions in P. xylostella.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6024
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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