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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Involvement of a bifunctional fatty-acyl desaturase in the biosynthesis of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, sex pheromone.

The straight-chain C(10) to C(18) unsaturated aliphatic compounds containing an oxygenated functional group (aldehyde, alcohol, or acetate ester) derived from saturated C(16) or C(18) fatty acids are a major class of sex pheromone components produced by female moths. In the biosynthesis of these pheromone components, various combinations of limited chain-shortening and regio- and stereospecific desaturation reactions significantly contribute to the production of a vast number of the species-specific pheromone components in Lepidoptera. Biosynthesis of the silkmoth sex pheromone bombykol, (E,Z)-10,12-hexadecadien-1-ol, involves two consecutive desaturation steps, the second of which is unique in that it generates a conjugated diene system from the Delta11-monoene C(16) intermediate. In experiments designed to characterize the acyl-CoA desaturases responsible for bombykol biosynthesis, we have cloned three cDNAs encoding desaturase family members from the pheromone gland of the inbred strain of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori. Transcript analyses by RT-PCR and subsequent functional assays using a Bac-to-Bac baculovirus expression system revealed that desat1 is the only desaturase gene prominently expressed during pheromonogenesis and that its gene product, B. mori Desat1, possesses both Z11 desaturation and Delta10,12-desaturation activities. Consequently, we have concluded that B. mori Desat1 is not only a bifunctional desaturase involved in bombykol biosynthesis but that it is also the enzyme responsible for both desaturation steps.[1]


  1. Involvement of a bifunctional fatty-acyl desaturase in the biosynthesis of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, sex pheromone. Moto, K., Suzuki, M.G., Hull, J.J., Kurata, R., Takahashi, S., Yamamoto, M., Okano, K., Imai, K., Ando, T., Matsumoto, S. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2004) [Pubmed]
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