Changes in both trans- And cis-regulatory elements mediate insecticide resistance in a lepidopteron pest, Spodoptera exigua

Bo Hu, He Huang, Songzhu Hu, Miaomiao Ren, Qi Wei, Xiangrui Tian, Mohammed Esmail Abdalla Elzaki, Chris Bass, Jianya Su, Subba Reddy Palli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The evolution of insect resistance to insecticides is frequently associated with overexpression of one or more cytochrome P450 enzyme genes. Although overexpression of CYP450 genes is a well-known mechanism of insecticide resistance, the underlying regulatory mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we uncovered the mechanisms of overexpression of the P450 gene, CYP321A8 in a major pest insect, Spodoptera exigua that is resistant to multiple insecticides. CYP321A8 confers resistance to organophosphate (chlorpyrifos) and pyrethroid (cypermethrin and deltamethrin) insecticides in this insect. Constitutive upregulation of transcription factors CncC/Maf are partially responsible for upregulated expression of CYP321A8 in the resistant strain. Reporter gene assays and site-directed mutagenesis analyses demonstrated that CncC/Maf enhanced the expression of CYP321A8 by binding to specific sites in the promoter. Additional cis-regulatory elements resulting from a mutation in the CYP321A8 promoter in the resistant strain facilitates the binding of the orphan nuclear receptor, Knirps, and enhances the promoter activity. These results demonstrate that two independent mechanisms; overexpression of transcription factors and mutations in the promoter region resulting in a new cis-regulatory element that facilitates binding of the orphan nuclear receptor are involved in overexpression of CYP321A8 in insecticide-resistant S. exigua.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009403
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 9 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2021 Hu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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