A diversity of putative carboxylesterases are expressed in the antennae of the noctuid moth Spodoptera littoralis

Insect Mol Biol. 2010 Feb;19(1):87-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2009.00939.x. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Recent studies have suggested that pheromone-degrading enzymes belonging to the carboxylesterase family could play a role in the dynamics of the olfactory response to acetate sex pheromones in insects. Bioinformatic analyses of a male antennal expressed sequence tag library allowed the identification of 19 putative esterase genes expressed in the antennae of the moth Spodoptera littoralis. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that these genes belong to different insect esterase clades, defined by their putative cellular localization and substrate preferences. Interestingly, two of the 19 genes appeared to be antennal specific, suggesting a specific role in olfactory processing. This high esterase diversity suggested that the antennae are the location for intense esterase-based metabolism, against potentially a large range of exogenous and endogenous molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carboxylesterase / genetics
  • Carboxylesterase / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Larva / enzymology
  • Male
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / enzymology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pupa / enzymology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Spodoptera / enzymology*
  • Spodoptera / genetics
  • Spodoptera / growth & development


  • Insect Proteins
  • Carboxylesterase