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Int J Dev Biol. 2009;53(1):109-20. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082681ms.

Ceratitis capitata transformer-2 gene is required to establish and maintain the autoregulation of Cctra, the master gene for female sex determination.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Section of Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.


In Drosophila melanogaster, transformer-2 (TRA-2) which is a non-sex-specific auxiliary splicing factor, is required to promote female sexual differentiation by interaction with the female-specific TRA. The two proteins positively regulate the splicing of both doublesex (dsx) and fruitless (fru) pre-mRNAs, which in turn regulate phenotypic and behavioural sexual dimorphism. In the Mediterranean fruitfly Ceratitis capitata, the female-specific CcTRA is similarly required not only for Ccdsx splicing, but also to exert a novel autoregulatory function that consists of promoting female-specific splicing of Cctra pre-mRNA. This study reports the isolation and functional analysis of the C. capitata homologue of the Drosophila transformer-2 gene (Cctra-2). Transient RNAi against Cctra-2 during embryonic development causes the full sex reversal of XX flies in adult fertile pseudo-males, as well as changes in the splicing pattern of Cctra, Ccdsx and Ccfruitless (Ccfru). We propose that: 1) Cctra-2, as in Drosophila, is necessary for promoting Ccdsx and putative Ccfru pre-mRNA female-specific splicing and that 2) unlike in Drosophila, Cctra-2 appears to be necessary for establishing female sex determination in early XX embryos and for maintaining the positive feedback regulation of Cctra during development.

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