Pheromone binding proteins of Epiphyas postvittana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) are encoded at a single locus
ABSTRACT The light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Tortricidae: Lepidoptera) uses a blend of (E)-11-tetradecenyl acetate and (E,E)-9,11-tetradecadienyl acetate as its sex pheromone. Odorant binding proteins, abundant in the antennae of male and female E. postvittana, were separated by native PAGE to reveal four major proteins with distinct mobilities. Microsequencing of their N-terminal residues showed that two were general odorant binding proteins (GOBPs) while two were pheromone binding proteins (PBPs). Full length cDNAs encoding these proteins were amplified using a combination of PCR and RACE-PCR. Sequence of the GOBPs revealed two genes (EposGOBP1, EposGOBP2), similar to orthologues in other species of Lepidoptera. Eleven cDNAs of the PBP gene were amplified, cloned and sequenced revealing two major phylogenetic clusters of PBP sequences differing by six amino acid substitutions. The position of the six amino acid differences on the protein was predicted by mapping onto the three-dimensional structure of PBP of Bombyx mori. All six substitutions were predicted to fall on the outside of the protein away from the inner pheromone binding pocket. One substitution does fall close to the putative dimerisation region of the protein (Ser63Thr). Expression of three of the cDNAs in a baculovirus expression system revealed that one class encodes an electrophoretically slow form (EposPBP1-12) while the other encodes a fast form (EposPBP1-2, EposPBP1-3). A native Western of these expressed proteins compared with antennal protein extracts demonstrated that PBP is also expressed in female antennae and that PBP may be present as a dimer as well as a monomer in E. postvittana. The fast and slow forms of EposPBP1 are allelic. Westerns on single antennal pair protein extracts and allele-specific PCR from genomic DNA both show a segregating pattern of inheritance in laboratory and wild populations. Radio labelled (E)-11-tetradecenyl acetate binds to both fast and slow PBP forms in gel assays. Taken together, the genetic and biochemical data do not support the hypothesis that these PBPs are specific for each component of the E. postvittana pheromone. However, duplication of this PBP locus in the future might allow such diversification to evolve, as observed in the other species.