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Keywords:

  • Holotrichia oblita;
  • odorant binding protein;
  • bioinformatics;
  • TYR111;
  • fluorescence assays

Abstract

The scarab beetle Holotrichia oblita Faldermann (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) is a predominant underground pest in the northern parts of China, and its larvae (grubs) cause great economic losses because of its wide range of host plants and covert habitats. Environmentally friendly strategies for controlling adults would have novel and broad potential applications. One potential pest management measure is the regulation of olfactory chemoreception to control target insect pests. In the process of olfactory recognition, odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) are believed to carry hydrophobic odorants from the environment to the surface of olfactory receptor neurons. To obtain a better understanding of the relationship between OBP structures and their ligands, homology modelling and molecular docking have been conducted on the interaction between HoblOBP1 and hexyl benzoate in the present study. Based on the results, site-directed mutagenesis and binding experiments were combined to describe the binding sites of HoblOBP1 and to explore its ligand-binding mechanism. After homology modelling of HoblOBP1, it was found that the three-dimensional structure of HoblOBP1 consists of six α-helices and three disulphide bridges that connect the helices, and the hydrophobic pockets are both composed of five helices. Based on the docking study, we found that van der Waals interactions and hydrophobic interactions are both important in the bonding between HoblOBP1 and hexyl benzoate. Intramolecular residues formed the hydrogen bonds in the C terminus of the protein and the bonds are crucial for the ligand-binding specificity. Finally, MET48, ILE80 and TYR111 are binding sites predicted for HoblOBP1. Using site-directed mutagenesis and fluorescence assays, it was found that ligands could not be recognized by mutant of Tyr111. A possible explanation is that the compound could not be recognized by the mutant, and remains in the binding cavity because of the loss of the intramolecular hydrogen bonding that acts as a holder. So we believe that Tyr111 of HoblOBP1 is a key binding site. We also believe that Ile80A is a very important binding site, especially to some ligands.