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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 1;105(26):9076-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802610105. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Chiral discrimination of the Japanese beetle sex pheromone and a behavioral antagonist by a pheromone-degrading enzyme.

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Honorary Maeda-Duffey Laboratory, Department of Entomology, University of California, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The sophistication of the insect olfactory system is elegantly demonstrated by the reception of sex pheromone by the Japanese beetle. In this insect, two olfactory receptor neurons housed in antennal sensilla placodea are highly sensitive. One neuron specifically detects the sex pheromone produced by conspecific females (R,Z)-5-(-)-(1-decenyl)oxacyclopentan-2-one [(R)-japonilure]. The other neuron is tuned to (S)-japonilure, a sex pheromone from a closely related species and a behavioral antagonist for the Japanese beetle. These chemical signals are enzymatically terminated by antennal esterases that open the lactone rings to form physiologically inactive hydroxyacids. We have isolated a pheromone-degrading enzyme, PjapPDE, from >100,000 antennae of the Japanese beetle. PjapPDE was demonstrated to be expressed only in the antennal tissues housing the pheromone-detecting sensilla placodea. Baculovirus expression generated recombinant PjapPDE with likely the same posttranslational modifications as the native enzyme. Kinetic studies with pure native and recombinant PjapPDE showed a clear substrate preference, with an estimated half-life in vivo for the sex pheromone and a behavioral antagonist of approximately 30 and approximately 90 ms, respectively.

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