CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene knockout reveals a more important role of PBP1 than PBP2 in the perception of female sex pheromone components in Spodoptera litura

Guan Heng Zhu, Mei Yan Zheng, Jia Bin Sun, Sajjad Ali Khuhro, Qi Yan, Yongping Huang, Zainulabeuddin Syed, Shuang Lin Dong

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49 Scopus citations


Three different pheromone binding proteins (PBPs) can typically be found in the sensilla lymph of noctuid moth antennae, but their relative contributions in perception of the sex pheromone is rarely verified in vivo. Previously, we demonstrated that SlitPBP3 plays a minor role in the sex pheromone detection in Spodoptera litura using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. In the present study, the roles of two other SlitPBPs (SlitPBP1 and SlitPBP2) are further verified using the same system. First, by co-injection of Cas9 mRNA/sgRNA into newly laid eggs, a high rate of target mutagenesis was induced, 51.5% for SlitPBP1 and 46.8% for SlitPBP2 as determined by restriction enzyme assay. Then, the homozygous SlitPBP1 and SlitPBP2 knockout lines were obtained by cross-breeding. Finally, using homozygous knockout male moths, we performed electrophysiological (EAG recording) and behavioral analyses. Results showed that knockout of either SlitPBP1 or SlitPBP2 in males decreased EAG response to each of the 3 sex pheromone components (Z9,E11-14:Ac, Z9,E12-14:Ac and Z9-14:Ac) by 53%, 60% and 63% (for SlitPBP1 knockout) and 40%, 43% and 46% (for SlitPBP2 knockout), respectively. These decreases in EAG responses were similar among 3 pheromone components, but were more pronounced in SlitPBP1 knockout males than in SlitPBP2 knockout males. Consistently, behavioral assays with the major component (Z9,E11-14:Ac) showed that SlitPBP1 knockout males responded in much lower percentages than SlitPBP2 knockout males in terms of orientation to the pheromone, along with reduction in close range behaviors such as hairpencil display and mating attempt. Taken together, this study provides direct functional evidence for the roles of SlitPBP1 and SlitPBP2, as well as their relative importance (SlitPBP1 > SlitPBP2) in the sex pheromone perception. This information is valuable in understanding mechanisms of sex pheromone perception and may facilitate the development of PBP-targeted pest control techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103244
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • Genome editing
  • Pheromone binding protein
  • Spodoptera litura

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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