Functional disparity of three pheromone-binding proteins to different sex pheromone components in Hyphantria cunea (Drury).
Hyphantria cunea (Drury) is a destructive invasive pest species in China that uses type II sex pheromone components. To date, however, the binding mechanisms of its sex pheromone components to their respective pheromone-binding proteins (HcunPBPs 1/2/3) have not been explored. In the current study, all three HcunPBPs were expressed in the antennae of both sexes. The prokaryotic expression and ligand binding assays were employed to study the binding of the moth's four sex pheromone components, including two aldehydes and two epoxides, and 24 plant volatiles to the HcunPBPs. Our results showed that the abilities of these HcunPBPs to bind to the aldehydes were significantly different from binding to the epoxides. These three HcunPBPs also selectively bind to some of the plant volatiles tested. Our molecular docking results indicated that some crucial hydrophobic residues might play a role in the binding of HcunPBPs to their sex pheromone components. Three HcunPBPs have different selectivities for pheromone components with both major and minor structural differences. Our study provides a fundamental insight into the olfactory mechanism of moths at the molecular level, especially for moth species that use various type II pheromone components.