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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23;110(17):6766-70. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221700110. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

Transgene-based, female-specific lethality system for genetic sexing of the silkworm, Bombyx mori.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Insect Developmental and Evolutionary Biology, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China.


Transgene-based genetic sexing methods are being developed for insects of agricultural and public health importance. Male-only rearing has long been sought in sericulture because males show superior economic characteristics, such as better fitness, lower food consumption, and higher silk yield. Here we report the establishment of a transgene-based genetic sexing system for the silkworm, Bombyx mori. We developed a construct in which a positive feedback loop regulated by sex-specific alternative splicing leads to high-level expression of the tetracycline-repressible transactivator in females only. Transgenic animals show female-specific lethality during embryonic and early larval stages, leading to male-only cocoons. This transgene-based female-specific lethal system not only has wide application in sericulture, but also has great potential in lepidopteran pest control.

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