The amplification of genes encoding the esterases E4 and FE4 is a widespread mechanism of insecticide resistance in the peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer). We present evidence that in susceptible aphids the two genes are adjacent to each other in a head-to-tail arrangement with E4 upstream of FE4 and with approx. 19 kb of intervening sequence. There are also at least two other closely related sequences which might come from other members of an esterase gene family, in line with reports of other insect gene families encoding detoxifying enzymes. The close identity between E4 and FE4 genes indicates a recent duplication and divergence. The subsequent amplifications giving multiple copies of either E4 or FE4 must have involved two separate events, each probably occurring once and then being selected by insecticide exposure and spread by migration. The cloning of sequences upstream of the FE4 gene suggest, by comparison with E4, that the two genes are regulated in different ways. FE4 has sequences corresponding to a conventional promoter (TATA box and CAP site) that are not present in E4; on the other hand, FE4 lacks the CpG island present 5ʹ of E4 genes that may control expression through changes in DNA methylation. The differences are likely to have occurred by the duplication event that gave rise to E4 and FE4 leading to different 5ʹ sequences.

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