A diterpene synthase from the sandfly Lutzomyia longipalpis produces the pheromone sobralene


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Mar 19;121(12):e2322453121. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2322453121. Epub 2024 Mar 12.


The phlebotomine sandfly, Lutzomyia longipalpis, a major vector of the Leishmania parasite, uses terpene pheromones to attract conspecifics for mating. Examination of the L. longipalpis genome revealed a putative terpene synthase (TPS), which-upon heterologous expression in, and purification from, Escherichia coli-yielded a functional enzyme. The TPS, termed LlTPS, converted geranyl diphosphate (GPP) into a mixture of monoterpenes with low efficiency, of which β-ocimene was the major product. (E,E)-farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) principally produced small amounts of (E)-β-farnesene, while (Z,E)- and (Z,Z)-FPP yielded a mixture of bisabolene isomers. None of these mono- and sesquiterpenes are known volatiles of L. longipalpis. Notably, however, when provided with (E,E,E)-geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP), LlTPS gave sobralene as its major product. This diterpene pheromone is released by certain chemotypes of L. longipalpis, in particular those found in the Ceará state of Brazil. Minor diterpene components were also seen as products of the enzyme that matched those seen in a sandfly pheromone extract.

PMID:38470919 | DOI:10.1073/pnas.2322453121