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EMBO J. 1983;2(4):485-91.

Sex determination and dosage compensation in Drosophila melanogaster: production of male clones in XX females.

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Zoological Institute, University of Zürich-Irchel, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


Sex determination and dosage compensation in Drosophila are implemented by the ratio of X-chromosomes to sets of autosomes (X:A ratio). Our aim was to change this X:A ratio during development, and to assess the response of the affected cells in sexually dimorphic structures. For this purpose, clones of XO constitution were produced in female embryos and larvae of two genotypes in which almost the entire euchromatic arm of one X-chromosome was translocated to the third chromosome. Genotype I was heterozygous for the X-linked recessive mutations Sxl, genotype II was homozygous for Sxl. The Sxl gene (sex-lethal) is involved in mediating sex determination and dosage compensation. In genotype I (Sxl), male clones could be generated up to 48 h in genitalia and analia, up to 72 h in the sex comb region and up to 96 h in 5th and 6th tergites. In genotype II (Sxl), male clones only appeared in the tergites, and only up to 24 h. The difference in these results is ascribed to the presence of Sxl in genotype I: when homozygous, this mutation causes XX clones to differentiate male structures; most of the male clones produced in genotype I must therefore be XX. In contrast, male clones produced in genotype II must be XO. Since these were only found when generated in embryos we conclude that the X:A ratio expresses itself autonomously in clones by setting the state of activity of the Sxl gene around blastoderm stage. Once this is achieved, the X:A signal is no longer needed, and the state of activity of the Sxl gene determines sex and dosage compensation.


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