Using a custom-made cDNA microarray, global transcriptional analyses were conducted to identify genes differentially regulated in the pheromone gland as compared to the remaining insect tissue of the moth Agrotis segetum (Noctuidae). A two-fold or larger difference in relative expression levels was found for 227 of 864 genes investigated comparing the two tissues. Unexpectedly, an antennal binding protein homologue, containing a pheromone-binding/general odorant-binding protein PFAM domain, was expressed at a 56-fold higher level in the pheromone gland. Relatively higher expression levels in the pheromone gland were also found for other gene representatives putatively encoding odorant-binding proteins and chemosensory proteins, as well as a number of gene representatives putatively encoding proteins involved in juvenile hormone interactions. The largest relative up-regulation (84-fold) in the pheromone gland was found for a gene encoding a Delta11-desaturase homologue implicated in desaturation of pheromone precursors. For three gene representatives, the expression patterns were independently verified by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Additionally the expression pattern in the pheromone gland for the Delta11-desaturase homologue was shown by qPCR to follow the previously known pattern of pheromone production in female A. segetum, both with respect to age and circadian rhythm, whereas the expression of a Delta9-desaturase and a chemosensory protein homologue did not share this pattern.
The pheromone brewery
Evolutionary mechanisms of pheromone divergence in Lepidoptera