Further sequence alignment and the inferred phylogeny of the pam genes from different Photorhabdus species suggest that pam is both ancestral and conserved throughout the genus. Where variable regions in amino acid sequence do exist, they could therefore be responsible for determining VX-765 manufacturer functional specificity of the protein within strains. Given the characteristic dual lifecycle of Photorhabdus,
with both a nematode-symbiotic and a insect-pathogenic stage, the limited similarity of Pam with B. thuringiensis Cry34 insecticidal protein, and the previous insecticidal studies with Pit , the first phenotypes tested with the pam mutant were toxicity to insects and symbiotic efficiency with the bacterium’s partner nematode H. bacteriophora. Interestingly, the deletion of the pam gene did not affect the ability of P. luminescens TT01 to support nematode growth, the production of infective juveniles, re-association of the bacteria with the worm or their ability to AZD6244 re-infect an insect. Similarly, we were not able to demonstrate any difference in insect survival (measured by LT50) when G. mellonella were CB-839 clinical trial injected with wild-type or pam mutant strains, but this could result from the high redundancy of virulence factors in Photorhabdus . In the case of Pam recombinant protein, which did not
cause toxicity either by injection or feeding assays, it is possible that Pam is not toxic by itself but requires a second, as yet unidentified, protein partner that operates in a binary toxin-type system. The closest known homolog of Pam is the 13.6 kDa Cry34 protein from B. thuringiensis, which only exerts effective mortality when coupled with its partner Cry35 [15, 16]. The precise mode of action Cyclin-dependent kinase 3 of Cry34 toxins remains
unclear, but susceptible insects show histopathological symptoms in the midgut epithelium, characterized by cell blebbing and vacuolation . We have not found any genes in Photorhabdus that are predicted to encode a component similar to Cry35. It should be noted that our findings are contrary to reports of toxicity of purified Pam protein by Li and co-workers . It is possible that the Pam variant they produced (Pit) as a GST-fusion from P. luminescens subsp. akhurstii YNd185, either has a much greater inherent toxicity to G. mellonella, or that the different method of purification used by these authors preserved Pam’s toxic phenotype. The fact that we did not find any toxic effect of Pam towards insects, or any decrease in the efficiency of interaction with the symbiotic nematode, led us to investigate whether it was expressed during insect infection at all. Western blots with anti-Pam antibody against proteins isolated from infected insects suggested that Pam was first produced at 48 h and not earlier during the infection process, and that it was continuously produced for at least 11 days after insect death.