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J Neurogenet. 2000 Dec;14(4):227-43,271.

The effects of ectopic white and transformer expression on Drosophila courtship behavior.

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IBLS Division of Molecular Genetics, University of Glasgow, 54 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6NU, UK.


The sex determining genes of Drosophila males and females function to establish the potential for sex-specific behaviors. Previous studies suggest that ectopic GAL4-directed misexpression of the female-specific isoform of the sex-determining gene transformer (tra) in specific sub-domains of an otherwise male brain can lead to bisexual courtship behavior, thus identifying brain domains that may mediate sex-specific behavior. However, expression of mini-white, the marker gene used in both P[GAL4] and P[UAS(G)] constructs, also induces males to court other males, questioning whether GAL4-mediated tra expression alone can induce bisexual behavior. Here we demonstrate the consequences of inducing mutations in the mini-white genes within P[GAL4] and P[UAS(G)] constructs to generate flies in which a white mutant phenotype is revealed. In these mini-white mutant strains, P[GAL4]-mediated transformer expression alone is both sufficient and necessary to generate bisexual behavior. In addition, using RT-PCR, we reveal the presence of female transcripts of doublesex and fruitless in the brains of otherwise male (XY) flies exhibiting P[GAL4]-directed tra-expression, demonstrating that P[GAL4]-directed tra is functional at the molecular level. We conclude that P[GAL4]-directed misexpression of tra is responsible for the bisexual behavior previously described and that this is mediated via sex-specific splicing of dsx and fru. Our results support the validity of such strategies for identifying regions of the fly brain that underlie sex-specific behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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