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Nat Commun. 2015 Sep 15;6:8263. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9263.

The fatty acid elongase Bond is essential for Drosophila sex pheromone synthesis and male fertility.

Author information

Biological Mass Spectrometry, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, 1 Research Link NUS, 117604 Singapore, Singapore.
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, 117543 Singapore, Singapore.


Insects use a spectacular variety of chemical signals to guide their social behaviours. How such chemical diversity arises is a long-standing problem in evolutionary biology. Here we describe the contribution of the fatty acid elongase Bond to both pheromone diversity and male fertility in Drosophila. Genetic manipulation and mass spectrometry analysis reveal that the loss of bond eliminates the male sex pheromone (3R,11Z,19Z)-3-acetoxy-11,19-octacosadien-1-ol (CH503). Unexpectedly, silencing bond expression severely suppresses male fertility and the fertility of conspecific rivals. These deficits are rescued on ectopic expression of bond in the male reproductive system. A comparative analysis across six Drosophila species shows that the gain of a novel transcription initiation site is correlated with bond expression in the ejaculatory bulb, a primary site of male pheromone production. Taken together, these results indicate that modification of cis-regulatory elements and subsequent changes in gene expression pattern is one mechanism by which pheromone diversity arises.

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