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Drosophila determines its sex by "counting" X chromosomes. We show that premature expression of the pair-rule segmentation gene hairy interferes with this process, resulting in female-specific lethality by inhibiting initiation of the master control gene Sex-lethal (Sxl). The female-specific lethality can be suppressed by a constitutive Sxl allele or by extra copies of X-linked "counting elements." These results are best explained by competition between hairy and other helix-loop-helix transcription factors that act in chromosome counting. We have confirmed this model by showing that misexpression of the achaete-scute T4 gene induces ectopic Sxl expression and male-specific lethality, confirming that achaete-scute T4 is the sisterless-b counting element. We propose that X chromosomes are counted through heterodimers of helix-loop-helix transcription factors that act synergistically to initiate Sxl expression.
|Item Type:||Journal Article, refereed|
|Communities & Collections:||07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences|
|DDC:||570 Life sciences; biology|
|Date:||21 December 1990|
|Deposited On:||11 Feb 2008 13:13|
|Last Modified:||28 Nov 2013 01:51|
|Citations:||Web of Science®. Times Cited: 145|
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