Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 627 - 633 (2010)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.092917fr
© UPV/EHU Press

Effect of the gene transformer of Anastrepha on the somatic sexual development of Drosophila

María-Fernanda Ruiz and Lucas Sánchez*

Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (C.S.I.C.), Madrid, Spain

ABSTRACT The gene transformer (tra) is the key regulatory memory device for sex determination in tephritid insects. The present manuscript addressed the question about the functional conservation of the tephritid Anastrepha Transformer protein to direct somatic sexual development in Drosophila (Drosophilidae). The transformer cDNA of Anastrepha encoding the putative full-length Tra protein was cloned in pUAST and introduced into Drosophila melanogaster. To express this protein, the GAL4-UAS system was used. The Anastrepha Tra protein induced the female-specific splicing of both dsx and fru pre-mRNAs in Drosophila XY male flies, so that these became transformed into females, though this transformation was incomplete (the sexually dimorphic foreleg basitarsus and the external terminalia were monitored). It was found that the degree of female transformation directly depended on the dose of Anastrepha tra and Drosophila transformer-2 (tra-2) genes, and that the Anastrepha Tra-Drosophila Tra2 complex is not as efficient as the Drosophila Tra-Tra2 complex at inducing the female-specific splicing of Drosophila dsx pre-mRNA. This can explain why the Anastrepha Tra protein cannot fully substitute for the endogenous Drosophila Tra protein.

Keywords:

Anastrepha, Drosophila, transformer, sexual development

*Corresponding author e-mail: lsanchez@cib.csic.es