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A new component of the nasonia sex determining cascade is maternally silenced and regulates transformer expression


Verhulst, Eveline C; Lynch, Jeremy A; Bopp, Daniel; Beukeboom, Leo W; van de Zande, Louis (2013). A new component of the nasonia sex determining cascade is maternally silenced and regulates transformer expression. PLoS ONE, 8(5):e63618.

Abstract

Although sex determination is a universal process in sexually reproducing organisms, sex determination pathways are among the most highly variable genetic systems found in nature. Nevertheless, general principles can be identified among the diversity, like the central role of transformer (tra) in insects. When a functional TRA protein is produced in early embryogenesis, the female sex determining route is activated, while prevention of TRA production leads to male development. In dipterans, male development is achieved by prevention of female-specific splicing of tra mRNA, either mediated by X-chromosome dose or masculinizing factors. In Hymenoptera, which have haplodiploid sex determination, complementary sex determination and maternal imprinting have been identified to regulate timely TRA production. In the parasitoid Nasonia, zygotic transformer (Nvtra) expression and splicing is regulated by a combination of maternal provision of Nvtra mRNA and silencing of Nvtra expression in unfertilized eggs. It is unclear, however, if this silencing is directly on the tra locus or whether it is mediated through maternal silencing of a trans-acting factor. Here we show that in Nasonia, female sex determination is dependent on zygotic activation of Nvtra expression by an as yet unknown factor. This factor, which we propose to term womanizer (wom), is maternally silenced during oogenesis to ensure male development in unfertilized eggs. This finding implicates the upstream recruitment of a novel gene in the Nasonia sex determining cascade and supports the notion that sex determining cascades can rapidly change by adding new components on top of existing regulators.

Abstract

Although sex determination is a universal process in sexually reproducing organisms, sex determination pathways are among the most highly variable genetic systems found in nature. Nevertheless, general principles can be identified among the diversity, like the central role of transformer (tra) in insects. When a functional TRA protein is produced in early embryogenesis, the female sex determining route is activated, while prevention of TRA production leads to male development. In dipterans, male development is achieved by prevention of female-specific splicing of tra mRNA, either mediated by X-chromosome dose or masculinizing factors. In Hymenoptera, which have haplodiploid sex determination, complementary sex determination and maternal imprinting have been identified to regulate timely TRA production. In the parasitoid Nasonia, zygotic transformer (Nvtra) expression and splicing is regulated by a combination of maternal provision of Nvtra mRNA and silencing of Nvtra expression in unfertilized eggs. It is unclear, however, if this silencing is directly on the tra locus or whether it is mediated through maternal silencing of a trans-acting factor. Here we show that in Nasonia, female sex determination is dependent on zygotic activation of Nvtra expression by an as yet unknown factor. This factor, which we propose to term womanizer (wom), is maternally silenced during oogenesis to ensure male development in unfertilized eggs. This finding implicates the upstream recruitment of a novel gene in the Nasonia sex determining cascade and supports the notion that sex determining cascades can rapidly change by adding new components on top of existing regulators.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:22 May 2013
Deposited On:09 Aug 2017 13:05
Last Modified:28 Aug 2017 13:08
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063618
PubMed ID:23717455

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