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Science. 1997 Jun 6;276(5318):1555-8.

Genetic feminization of pheromones and its behavioral consequences in Drosophila males.

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  • 1Mécanismes de communication, Unité de Recherche Associée-CNRS 1491, Bâtiment 446, Université Paris-Sud, 91405, Orsay-Cedex, France.


Pheromones are intraspecific chemical signals important for mate attraction and discrimination. In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, hydrocarbons on the cuticular surface of the animal are sexually dimorphic in both their occurrence and their effects: Female-specific molecules stimulate male sexual excitation, whereas the predominant male-specific molecule tends to inhibit male excitation. Complete feminization of the pheromone mixture produced by males was induced by targeted expression of the transformer gene in adult oenocytes (subcuticular abdominal cells) or by ubiquitous expression during early imaginal life. The resulting flies generally exhibited male heterosexual orientation but elicited homosexual courtship from other males.

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