Temperature-dependent sex determination is mediated by pSTAT3 repression of Kdm6b

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  17 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6488, pp. 303-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz4165

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

How egg temperature sets sex

In many reptiles, sex is determined by nest temperature during egg incubation. Temperature regulates the expression of an epigenetic modifier gene called Kdm6b, which is responsible for testis development. However, the molecular connection between temperature and sex-specific expression of this factor was previously unknown. Weber et al. have identified a link between temperature and the activation of a key regulator of Kdm6b called signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). After an influx of Ca2+ at the warmer, female-producing temperature, STAT3 is phosphorylated and silences Kdm6b transcription to repress testis development.

Science, this issue p. 303


In many reptiles, including the red-eared slider turtle Trachemys scripta elegans (T. scripta), sex is determined by ambient temperature during embryogenesis. We previously showed that the epigenetic regulator Kdm6b is elevated at the male-producing temperature and essential to activate the male pathway. In this work, we established a causal link between temperature and transcriptional regulation of Kdm6b. We show that signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is phosphorylated at the warmer, female-producing temperature, binds the Kdm6b locus, and represses Kdm6b transcription, blocking the male pathway. Influx of Ca2+, a mediator of STAT3 phosphorylation, is elevated at the female temperature and acts as a temperature-sensitive regulator of STAT3 activation.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science