From behavior to development: Genes for sexual behavior define the neuronal sexual switch in Drosophila

Daisuke Yamamoto, Kazuko Fujitani, Kazue Usui, Hiroki Ito, Yoshiro Nakano

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The isolation and analysis of Drosophila mutants with altered sexual orientation lead to the identification of novel branches in the sex- determination cascade which govern the sexually dimorphic development of the nervous system. One such example is the fruitless (fru) gene, the mutation of which induces male-to-male courtship and malformation of a male-specific muscle, the muscle of Lawrence (MOL). Since the MOL is formed in wild-type flies when the innervating nerve is male, regardless of the sex of the MOL itself, the primary site of Fru function is likely to be the motoneurons controlling the MOL. The fru gene produces multiple transcripts including sex-specific ones. A female-specific mRNA from the fru locus has a putative Transformer (Tra) binding site in its 5' untranslated region, suggesting that fru is a direct target of Tra. The fru transcripts encode a set of proteins similar to the BTB (Bric a brac, Tramtrack and Broad-complex)-Zn finger family of transcription factors. Mutations in the dissatisfaction (dsf) gene result in male-to-male courtship and reduced sexual receptivity of females. The dsf mutations also give rise to poor curling of the abdomen in males during copulation and failure of egg-laying by females. The latter phenotypes are ascribable to aberrant innervation of the relevant muscles. A genetic analysis reveals that expression of the dsf phenotypes depends on Tra but not on Doublesex (Dsx) or Fru, suggesting that dsf represents another target of Tra. Taken together, these findings suggest that the sex-determination protein Tra has at least three different targets, dsx, fru and dsf, each of which represents the first gene in a branch of the sex-determination hierarchy functioning in a mutually-exclusive set of neuronal cells in the Drosophila central nervous system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-146
    Number of pages12
    JournalMechanisms of Development
    Volume73
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1998 May

    Keywords

    • Dissatisfaction
    • Fruitless
    • Sex determination
    • Sexual dimorphism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Embryology
    • Developmental Biology

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