Isolation and characterization of CYP6B4, a furanocoumarin-inducible cytochrome P450 from a polyphagous caterpillar (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)

Chien Fu Hung, May R. Berenbaum, Mary A. Schuler

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74 Scopus citations


Papilio glaucus (tiger swallowtail) is a generalist that rarely encounters plants containing furanocoumarins yet is constitutively capable of metabolizing low levels of these highly toxic allelochemicals. In larvae of this species, metabolism of linear (xanthotoxin, bergapten), and angular (angelicin, sphondin), furanocoumarins can be induced up to 30-fold by the presence of xanthotoxin in their diet. Degenerate primers corresponding to conserved amino acid sequences in three insect P450s, Musca domestica (CYP6A1), Drosophila melanogaster (CYP6A2) and Papilio polyxenes (CYP6B1), were used to clone xanthotoxin-induced P450 transcripts from P. glaucus larvae by a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) strategy. Positive clones encoding the highly conserved F-G-R-C-G P450 signature motif were used to isolate a full-length CYP6B4v1 cDNA from a P. glaucus xanthotoxin induced cDNA library. Sequence comparisons indicate the P. glaucus CYP6B4vl protein sequence is 63% and 61% identical, respectively, to the P. polyxenes furanocoumarin-inducible CYP6B1v1 and CYP6B3v1 proteins. Northern analysis indicates that CYP6B4 and related transcripts are highly induced in response to xanthotoxin. Baculovirus-mediated expression of the CYP6B4vl protein in lepidopteran cell lines demonstrates that this P450 isozyme metabolizes isopimpinellin, imperatorin, and bergapten at high rates, xanthotoxin and psoralen at intermediate rates and angelicin, sphondin, and trioxsalen only at very low rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-385
Number of pages9
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Baculovirus expression
  • Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases
  • Furanocoumarin metabolism
  • Papilio glaucus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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