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Sex determination in insects: variations on a common theme


Bopp, D; Saccone, G; Beye, M (2014). Sex determination in insects: variations on a common theme. Sexual Development, 8(1-3):20-28.

Abstract

Recent studies in a representative selection of holometabolous insects suggest that, despite diversity at the instructive level, the signal-relaying part of the sex-determining pathway is remarkably well conserved. In principle, it is composed of the transformer gene (tra) , which acts as a common binary switch that transduces the selected sexual fate, female when ON, male when OFF, to the downstream effector doublesex (dsx) that controls overt sexual differentiation. An interesting recurrent feature is that tra is switched ON in the early zygote by maternally provisioned tra activity. Different male-determining signals evolved, which prevent maternal activation of zygotic tra to allow for male development. In some species, where lack of maternal activation leaves tra in the OFF state, novel female-determining signals were deployedto activate zygotic tra. It appears that both the instructive end of the pathway upstream of tra as well as the executive end downstream of dsx are primary targets of evolutionary divergence, while the transduction part seems less prone to changes. We propose that this is a feature shared with many other signaling cascades that regulate developmental fates.

Abstract

Recent studies in a representative selection of holometabolous insects suggest that, despite diversity at the instructive level, the signal-relaying part of the sex-determining pathway is remarkably well conserved. In principle, it is composed of the transformer gene (tra) , which acts as a common binary switch that transduces the selected sexual fate, female when ON, male when OFF, to the downstream effector doublesex (dsx) that controls overt sexual differentiation. An interesting recurrent feature is that tra is switched ON in the early zygote by maternally provisioned tra activity. Different male-determining signals evolved, which prevent maternal activation of zygotic tra to allow for male development. In some species, where lack of maternal activation leaves tra in the OFF state, novel female-determining signals were deployedto activate zygotic tra. It appears that both the instructive end of the pathway upstream of tra as well as the executive end downstream of dsx are primary targets of evolutionary divergence, while the transduction part seems less prone to changes. We propose that this is a feature shared with many other signaling cascades that regulate developmental fates.

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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:2014
Deposited On:09 Aug 2017 13:14
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 23:38
Publisher:Karger
ISSN:1661-5425
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1159/000356458

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