In Drosophila melanogaster, the fruitless (fru) gene encoding BTB-Zn-finger transcription factors organizes male sexual behavior by controlling the development of sexually dimorphic neuronal circuitry. However, the molecular mechanism by which fru controls the sexual fate of neurons has been unknown. Our recent study represents a first step toward clarification of this mechanism. We have shown that: (1) Fru forms a complex with the transcriptional cofactor Bonus (Bon), which recruits either of two chromatin regulators, Histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) or Heterochromatin protein 1a (HP1a), to Fru-target sites; (2) the Fru-Bon complex has a masculinizing effect on single sexually-dimorphic neurons when it recruits HDAC1, whereas it has a demasculinizing effect when it recruits HP1a; (3) HDAC1 or HP1a thus recruited to Fru-target sites determines the sexual fate of single neurons in an all-or-none manner, as manipulations of HDAC1 or HP1a expression levels affect the proportion of male-typical neurons and female-typical neurons without producing neurons of intersexual characteristics. Here, we hypothesize that chromatin landscape changes induced by ecdysone surges direct the HDAC1- or HP1a-containing Fru complex to distinct targets, thereby allowing them to switch the neuronal sexual fate in the brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science