Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases play a significant role in the detoxification of hostplant allelochemicals and synthetic insecticides in Lepidoptera. In the corn earworm Helicoverpa zea, a noctuid of considerable economic importance, metabolisms of xanthotoxin, a toxic furanocoumarin, and α-cypermethrin, an insecticide, are mediated by at least one P450 with a catalytic site capable of accepting both substrates. To further the characterization of P450s in this species, we have cloned three full-length cDNAs encoding two CYP4M subfamily members and a novel CYP321A subfamily member. RNA analyses have demonstrated that the CYP321A1 gene is highly induced (51-fold) in larval midguts in response to xanthotoxin but not cypermethrin. Both CYP4M genes are expressed at negligible levels that are not increased by xanthotoxin or cypermethrin. Baculovirus-mediated expression of the full-length CYP321A1 cDNA has demonstrated that the CYP321A1 protein metabolizes xanthotoxin and angelicin, like the CYP6B1 protein in the furanocoumarin specialist Papilio polyxenes, and α-cypermethrin, like the CYP6B8 protein previously characterized in H. zea. In contrast, the CYP4M7 protein does not metabolize xanthotoxin at any detectable level. We conclude that at least two xanthotoxin-inducible P450s from highly divergent subfamilies (CYP6B and CYP321A) contribute to the resistance of H. zea larvae to toxic furanocoumarins and insecticides. Genomic PCR analysis indicates that the CYP321A1 gene has evolved independently from the CYP6B genes known to be present in this insect.
- Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s)
- Helicoverpa zea
- Transcriptional regulation
- cytochrome P450 monooxygenases
ASJC Scopus subject areas