Species-specific patterns of sexual dimorphism in the expression of fruitless protein, a neural musculinizing factor in Drosophila

Kazue Usui-Aoki, Yoshitaka Mikawa, Daisuke Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In Drosophila melanogaster, male-specific forms of the fruitless (fru) gene product, mFru protein, function as a neural sex-determination factors that directs the development of at least two male characteristics, namely courtship and mating behavior and the formation of the muscle of Lawrence (MOL). In D. melanogaster , the male-specific expression of Fru protein in motoneurons is responsible for the male-limited induction of the MOL by such neurons. Although no Drosophila species whose females have the MOL are known, there are many Drosophila species whose males lack the MOL. We performed immunohistochemical staining of the central nervous system (CNS) from 9 Drosophila species to determine whether the mFru expression profile is different between MOL-present and MOL-absent species. In 8 of the 9 species, Fru protein expression in the CNS is strictly male-specific, regardless of the presence or absence of the MOL. The sole exception is D. suzukii, in which females express the Fru protein though less extensively than males do: Fru expression in the CNS of female D. suzukii is restricted to the lamina and ventral ganglia. Expression of Fru protein in the lamina is observed in males of D. virilis and in both sexes of D. suzukii, but not in males and females of the 7 other species. These results indicate that sexually dimorphic expression of the Fru protein has been subjected to species-specific modulation during evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-121
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurogenetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • CNS, Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscle of Lawrence
  • Sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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