by Christine C. Chiu, Christopher I. Keeling, Hannah M. Henderson, Joerg Bohlmann
The mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae) is a forest insect pest that attacks several different pine (Pinus) species in its native range of distribution in western North America. MPB are exposed for most of their life cycle to the chemical defenses of their hosts. These defenses are dominated by oleoresin secretions containing mostly various monoterpenes and diterpene resin acids (DRAs). Cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450s) of the MPB are thought to be involved in the metabolism of at least some of these defense compounds. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of three MPB P450s, CYP6DJ1, CYP6BW1 and CYP6BW3, and their functions in the oxidation of various monoterpenes and diterpene resin acids. CYP6DJ1 oxidizes the monoterpenes (+)-(4R)-limonene, (–)-(4S)-limonene and terpinolene and produces (4R,8R)-limonene-8,9-epoxide, (4R,8S)-limonene-8,9-epoxide, (4S,8S)-limonene-8,9-epoxide, (4S,8R)-limonene-8,9-epoxide, perilla alcohol and several unidentified oxidized compounds. These products of CYP6DJ1 were also identified in extracts of MPB treated with the same monoterpenes. CYP6BW1 and CYP6BW3 both oxidize the DRAs abietic acid, dehydroabietic acid, neoabietic acid, levopimaric acid, palustric acid, and isopimaric acid, producing hydroxylated and epoxidized DRAs. CYP6DJ1, CYP6BW1 and CYP6BW3 appear to contribute to the metabolism of oleoresin terpenes as part of the MPB’s ability to cope with host defenses.