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Bioessays. 1994 Oct;16(10):745-52.

The regulation of the yolk protein genes, a family of sex differentiation genes in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK.


There are many obvious morphological and behavioural differences between male and female Drosophila, whose differing phenotypes are produced by a hierarchy of sex determination genes. These genes have been well characterised at the genetic and molecular level. Similarly, a number of sex-specific differentiation genes have been characterised, such as the chorion and vitelline membrane genes in females and the sex peptide and other accessory gland proteins in males. Despite the depth of these parallel studies, there is only one example of a direct link between the sex determination pathway and the downstream sex differentiation genes, namely the regulation of the female-specific yolk protein genes. The yolk proteins are synthesised in the fat body and ovarian follicle cells of the adult female and are subsequently transported to the oocyte where they are stored for utilization during embryogenesis. The expression of the yolk protein genes is not entirely controlled by the sex determination hierarchy, as several different regulatory pathways must interact to direct their correct sexual, temporal and spatial regulation during development.

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