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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Jan 1;89(1):142-6.

Molecular cloning of the pheromone biosynthesis-activating neuropeptide in Helicoverpa zea.

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Insect Neurobiology and Hormone Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705.


Pheromone biosynthesis-activating neuropeptide (PBAN) regulates sex pheromone biosynthesis in female Helicoverpa (Heliothis) zea. Two oligonucleotide probes representing two overlapping amino acid regions of PBAN were used to screen 2.5 x 10(5) recombinant plaques, and a positive recombinant clone was isolated. Sequence analysis of the isolated clone showed that the PBAN gene is interrupted after the codon encoding amino acid 14 by a 0.63-kilobase (kb) intron. Preceding the PBAN amino acid sequence is a 10-amino acid sequence containing a pentapeptide Phe-Thr-Pro-Arg-Leu, which is followed by a Gly-Arg-Arg processing site. Immediately after the PBAN amino acid sequence is a Gly-Arg processing site and a short stretch of 10 amino acids. This 10-amino acid sequence contains a repeat of the PBAN C-terminal pentapeptide Phe-Ser-Pro-Arg-Leu and is terminated by another Gly-Arg processing site. It is suggested that the PBAN gene in H. zea might carry, besides PBAN, a 7- and an 8-residue amidated peptide, which share with PBAN the core C-terminal pentapeptide Phe-(Ser or Thr)-Pro-Arg-Leu-NH2. The C-terminal pentapeptide sequence of PBAN represents the minimum sequence required for pheromonotropic activity in H. zea and also bears a high degree of homology to the pyrokinin family of insect peptides with myotropic activity. It is possible that the putative heptapeptide and octapeptide might be new members of the pyrokinin family, with pheromonotropic and/or myotropic activities. Thus, the PBAN gene products, besides affecting sexual behavior, might have broad influence on many biological processes in H. zea.

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