Characterization of a new toxin from the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae: the ribotoxin anisoplin

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Metarhizium anisopliae is an entomopathogenic fungus relevant in biotechnology with applications like malaria vector control. Studies of its virulence factors are therefore of great interest. Fungal ribotoxins are toxic ribonucleases with extraordinary efficiency against target ribosomes and suggested as potential insecticides. Here, we describe this ribotoxin characteristic activity in M. anisopliae cultures. Anisoplin has been obtained as a recombinant protein and further characterized. It is structurally similar to hirsutellin A, the ribotoxin from the entomopathogen Hirsutella thompsonii. Moreover, anisoplin shows the ribonucleolytic activity typical of ribotoxins and cytotoxicity against insect cells. How Metarhizium uses this toxin and possible applications are on perspective.