Pyrethroid metabolism by eleven Helicoverpa armigera P450S from the CYP6B and CYP9A subfamilies.
Lepidopteran P450s of the CYP6B and CYP9A subfamilies are thought to play important roles in host plant adaptation and insecticide resistance. An increasing number of paralogs and orthologs with high levels of sequence identity have been found in these subfamilies by mining recent genome projects. However, the biochemical function of most of them remains unknown. A better understanding of the evolution of P450 genes and of the catalytic competence of the enzymes they encode is needed to facilitate studies of host plant use and insecticide resistance. Here, we focused on the full complement of CYP6B (4 genes) and CYP9A (7 genes) in the generalist herbivore, Helicoverpa armigera. These P450s were heterologously expressed in Sf9 cells and compared functionally. In vitro assays showed that all CYP6B and CYP9A P450s can metabolize esfenvalerate efficiently, except for the evolutionarily divergent CYP6B43. A new 2'-hydroxy-metabolite of esfenvalerate was identified and found to be the main metabolite produced by CYP9A12. All tested P450s showed only low induction responses to esfenvalerate. To put these results from H. armigera P450s in perspective, 158 complete CYP6B and 100 complete CYP9A genes from 34 ditrysian species were manually curated. The CYP9A subfamily was more widespread than the CYP6B subfamily and the latter showed dramatic gains and losses, with ten species lacking CYP6B genes. Two adjacent CYP6B loci were found on chromosome 21, with different fates during the evolution of Lepidoptera. The diversity and functional redundancy of CYP6B and CYP9A genes challenge resistance management and pest control strategies as many P450s are available to insects to cope with chemical stresses they encounter.