Ruifen Weng1,2, Jacqueline SR Chin3, Joanne Y Yew2,3, Natascha Bushati3 and Stephen M Cohen1,2 .
1 - Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore
2 - Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore
3 - Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore
Published in eLIFE on 11 June 2013.
Many aspects of social behavior are controlled by sex-specific pheromones. Gender-appropriate production of the sexually dimorphic transcription factors doublesex and fruitless controls sexual differentiation and sexual behavior. miR-124 mutant males exhibited increased male–male courtship and reduced reproductive success with females. Females showed a strong preference for wild-type males over miR-124 mutant males when given a choice of mates. These effects were traced to aberrant pheromone production. We identified the sex-specific splicing factor transformer as a functionally significant target of miR-124 in this context, suggesting a role for miR-124 in the control of male sexual differentiation and behavior, by limiting inappropriate expression of the female form of transformer. miR-124 is required to ensure fidelity of gender-appropriate pheromone production in males. Use of a microRNA provides a secondary means of controlling the cascade of sex-specific splicing events that controls sexual differentiation in Drosophila.
Figure Legend: Male–male courtship.
(A) Courtship index comparing CS control and miR-124 mutant flies using decapitated CS or miR-124 mutant males as targets. Scores for many control flies were very close to zero, overlapping the x-axis, and so are not visible as individual data points in the scatter plot. Data represent one of four independent trials performed with comparable results. (B) Courtship index for CS control males toward decapitated targets. The target genotypes used are CS control, miR-124 mutant and rescued mutant. Data represent one of four independent trials performed with comparable results. (C) Courtship choice assay comparing the time CS control males courted decapitated CS control and miR-124 mutant targets, when presented together. Data represent the mean of more than 20 movies per genotype ±SD.
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