Kinetic properties of a sex pheromone-degrading enzyme: the sensillar esterase of Antheraea polyphemus.
Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has suggested that sex pheromone is rapidly inactivated within the sensory hairs soon after initiation of the action-potential spike. We report the isolation and characterization of a sex-pheromone-degrading enzyme from the sensory hairs of the silkmoth Antheraea polyphemus. In the presence of this enzyme at physiological concentration, the pheromone [(6E,11Z)-hexadecadienyl acetate] has an estimated half-life of 15 msec. Our findings suggest a molecular model for pheromone reception in which a previously reported pheromone-binding protein acts as a pheromone carrier, and an enzyme acts as a rapid pheromone inactivator, maintaining a low stimulus noise level within the sensory hairs.