Genetics

Fat Bodies and Sex

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Science  29 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5599, pp. 1683
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5599.1683b

Sex determination in the fruit fly Drosophila is mediated by an elaborate network of master regulators, including the transcription factor Doublesex. The target genes of these regulators are of great interest as they may shed light on the mechanisms that create sex-specific differences in morphology, physiology, and behavior.

By screening for genes that show sex-specific expression in the adult Drosophila head, two research groups have now identified several candidate targets of Doublesex. Intriguingly, these genes are not expressed in the brain, as had been expected, but in the fat body surrounding the brain. Among the male-specific target genes identified by Fujii and Amrein was tsx (for “turn on sex-specificity”), which encodes an odorant- or pheromone-binding protein. Ectopic expression of tsx in females reduced their receptivity to mating. Dauwalder et al. focused on the male-specific target gene takeout, which encodes a secreted protein that may bind small lipophilic molecules such as hormones. Inactivation of takeout in males reduced their courtship behavior. Thus fat cells near the brain may play a key role in fly mating behavior. — PAK

EMBO J.21, 5353 (2002); Genes Dev. 16, 2879 (2002).

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