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Elife. 2019 Aug 22;8. pii: e47262. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47262.

Sex-specific transcriptomic responses to changes in the nutritional environment.

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Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


Males and females typically pursue divergent reproductive strategies and accordingly require different dietary compositions to maximise their fitness. Here we move from identifying sex-specific optimal diets to understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie male and female responses to dietary variation in Drosophila melanogaster. We examine male and female gene expression on male-optimal (carbohydrate-rich) and female-optimal (protein-rich) diets. We find that the sexes share a large core of metabolic genes that are concordantly regulated in response to dietary composition. However, we also observe smaller sets of genes with divergent and opposing regulation, most notably in reproductive genes which are over-expressed on each sex's optimal diet. Our results suggest that nutrient sensing output emanating from a shared metabolic machinery are reversed in males and females, leading to opposing diet-dependent regulation of reproduction in males and females. Further analysis and experiments suggest that this reverse regulation occurs within the IIS/TOR network.


D. melanogaster; RNASeq; evolutionary biology; gene expression; genetics; genomics; nutrition; reproduction; sex differences

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