The first fully sequenced insect genomes were those of the fruitfly and the mosquito, both from the order Diptera. Now, with an increasing number and diversity of insect genomes becoming available, the diversity of insect P450 genes can be better appreciated and tentative ideas about the evolution of the CYP (cytochrome P450) superfamily in insects can be proposed. There are four large clades of insect P450 genes that existed before the divergence of the class Insecta and that are also represented by CYP families in vertebrates: the CYP2 clade, the CYP3 clade, the CYP4 clade and the mitochondrial P450 clade. P450s with known or suspected physiological functions are present in each of these clades and only a dozen genes appear to have orthologues or very close paralogues in each insect genome. P450 enzymes from each of these clades have been linked to insecticide resistance or to the metabolism of natural products and xenobiotics. In particular, insects appear to maintain a repertoire of mitochondrial P450 paralogues devoted to the response to environmental challenges.

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