The gypsy moth is a widespread and harmful pest causing extensive damage to the Canada's forest and orchard ecosystems. It uses (+)-disparlure as a sex pheromone. Discovery of the pheromone, including its absolute configuration, has enabled monitoring of gypsy moth populations. Disparlure of low enantiopurity is not attractive to the moths and, for this reason, enantiopure (+)-disparlure has been a synthetic target for many years. To access (+)-disparlure of high enantiopurity we have used a diastereoselective nucleophilic addition reaction with the enantiopure α-chloroaldehyde (2-chlorododecanal) that yields a stereocontrolled access to the 1,2-anti chlorohydrin core. The (+)-disparlure was prepared through a series of transformations that include a Mitsunobu inversion. We have successfully completed the synthesis of (+)-disparlure in 5 steps as compared to Iwaki's first synthesis in 12 steps and Sharpless's widely used synthesis in 6 steps. The same approach was used to produce 18-hydroxydisparlure enantiomers, which were coupled to a linker with an alkyne moiety at the end. The alkyne was then coupled to azide-based commercial fluorescent probes, to furnish fluorescent disparlure-based probes for physical studies. The gypsy moth has two different pheromone binding proteins, LdisPBP1 and LdisPBP2. Previously, our group has addressed the enantiomer selectivity of these two PBPs and found that PBP1 binds (-)-disparlure more strongly than (+)-disparlure, while PBP2 binds (+)-disparlure more strongly. Despite several binding assays, the interaction and discrimination of gypsy moth PBPs towards disparlure enantiomers are not fully understood due to lack of binding interaction and kinetic studies, which are technically demanding, due to the hydrophobicity of the pheromone. In this thesis, we have studied the binding interaction of deuterium-labelled (+)-disparlure and (-)-disparlure with LdisPBPs by 2H NMR spectroscopy. The results from NMR studies were correlated with the results from docking simulations of (+)-disparlure and (-)-disparlure bound to one internal site and multiple external sites of LdisPBP1 and LdisPBP2. These results indicated that (+)-disparlure and (-)-disparlure adopt different conformations and orientations in the binding pockets of LdisPBP1 and LdisPBP2. Most of the reported work on PBPs focuses on the pheromone binding affinities of PBPs. However, the pheromone-PBP interactions require more than half an hour to establish equilibrium, whereas male moths respond to female pheromones in milliseconds. Therefore, the interactions between pheromones and olfactory components such as PBPs and pheromone receptors may not be under thermodynamic control. In this thesis, we aimed to provide a dynamic perspective of pheromone-PBP interactions and to link these to the functions of PBPs. We have studied thermodynamic (Kd) and kinetic properties (kon and koff) of LdisPBPs-disparlure enantiomer interaction by fluorescence binding assays and kinetic experiments using fluorophore-tagged disparlure enantiomers. The result indicated that the binding preference of disparlure enantiomers to LdisPBPs. Based on the kinetic data of LdisPBPs with fluorophore-tagged disparlure enantiomers, we propose a kinetic model that includes a two-step binding process. Each of these two steps may contribute to a different function of the LdisPBPs.
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Thesis advisor: Plettner, Erika
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