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Insect pheromone biosynthesis: stereochemical pathway of hydroxydanaidal production from alkaloidal precursors in Creatonotos transiens (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae)

Insect pheromone biosynthesis: stereochemical pathway of hydroxydanaidal production from alkaloidal precursors in Creatonotos transiens (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 90(14): 6834-6838

The mechanism by which the moth Creatonotos transiens produces its male pheromone, (7R)-hydroxydanaidal, from heliotrine, an alkaloidal precursor of opposite (7S) stereochemistry, was investigated. Specifically deuteriated samples of heliotrine and epiheliotrine were prepared and fed to C. transiens larvae, and the steps in the biosynthetic process were monitored by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. These analyses indicate that heliotrine is initially epimerized to (7S)-epiheliotrine by oxidation to the corresponding ketone followed by stereospecific reduction. The order of the subsequent steps is (i) aromatization of the dihydropyrrole ring, (ii) ester hydrolysis, and (iii) oxidation of the resulting primary alcohol to the final aldehyde. The ecological implications of this insect's ability (and the inability of another moth, Utetheisa ornatrix) to use representatives of two stereochemical families of alkaloids as pheromone precursors are discussed.

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Accession: 002641402

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11607415

DOI: 10.2307/2362601

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