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Curr Biol. 2007 Sep 4;17(17):1473-8. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

The sex-determination genes fruitless and doublesex specify a neural substrate required for courtship song.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Genetics, University of Glasgow, Anderson College, Glasgow, UK.


Courtship song is a critical component of male courtship behavior in Drosophila, making the female more receptive to copulation and communicating species-specific information [1-6]. Sex mosaic studies have shown that the sex of certain regions of the central nervous system (CNS) is critical to song production [7]. Our examination of one of these regions, the mesothoracic ganglion (Msg), revealed the coexpression of two sex-determination genes, fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx). Because both genes are involved in creating a sexually dimorphic CNS [8, 9] and are necessary for song production [10-13], we investigated the individual contributions of fru and dsx to the specification of a male CNS and song production. We show a novel requirement for dsx in specifying a sexually dimorphic population of fru-expressing neurons in the Msg. Moreover, by using females constitutively expressing the male-specific isoforms of fru (Fru(M)), we show a critical requirement for the male isoform of dsx (Dsx(M)), alongside Fru(M), in the specification of courtship song. Therefore, although Fru(M) expression is sufficient for the performance of many male-specific behaviors [14], we have shown that without Dsx(M), the determination of a male-specific CNS and thus a full complement of male behaviors are not realized.

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