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

Pheromone anosmia in a scarab beetle induced by in vivo inhibition of a pheromone-degrading enzyme.

Previous biochemical evidence suggests that a cytochrome P450 specific to male antennae of the pale-brown chafer, Phyllopertha diversa, has evolved as a pheromone-degrading enzyme. By using a bioinformatics approach, we have now cloned three P450 cDNAs: CYP4AW1, CYP4AW2, and CYP6AT1. RT-PCR indicated that CYP4AW2 is expressed in all tissues examined, that CYP6AT1 is antennae-rich, and that CYP4AW1 is antennae-specific. Both tissue specificity and electrophysiological studies strongly support that CYP4AW1 in P. diversa is a pheromone-degrading enzyme involved in pheromone inactivation. Highly sensitive, pheromone-specific olfactory receptor neurons in male antennae were completely desensitized by direct application of metyrapone into the sensillar lymph. When tested in the same or different individuals, the metyrapone treatment had no effect on olfactory receptor neurons tuned to the plant volatile (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, which might be inactivated by an esterase. Metyrapone treatment did not affect pheromone reception in the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, in the scarab beetle, Anomala octiescostata, or in the Oriental beetle, Exomala orientalis. Metyrapone-induced anosmia was restricted to the pheromone detectors in P. diversa, which became insensitive to physiological concentrations of pheromones for a few minutes. As opposed to previous trials, the specificity of the inhibitor and pheromone system led to unambiguous evidence for the role of pheromone-degrading enzymes in the fast inactivation of pheromones.[1]


  1. Pheromone anosmia in a scarab beetle induced by in vivo inhibition of a pheromone-degrading enzyme. Maïbèche-Coisne, M., Nikonov, A.A., Ishida, Y., Jacquin-Joly, E., Leal, W.S. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2004) [Pubmed]
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