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Non-autonomous sex determination controls sexually dimorphic development of the Drosophila gonad

Authors
  • DeFalco, Tony
  • Camara, Nicole
  • Le Bras, Stéphanie
  • Van Doren, Mark
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental cell
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2008
Volume
14
Issue
2
Pages
275–286
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2007.12.005
PMID: 18267095
PMCID: PMC2292836
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Sex determination in Drosophila is commonly thought to be a cell-autonomous process, where each cell decides its own sexual fate based on its sex chromosome constitution (XX vs. XY). This is in contrast to sex determination in mammals, which largely acts non-autonomously through cell-cell signaling. Here we examine how sexual dimorphism is created in the Drosophila gonad. We have identified a novel male-specific cell type in the embryonic gonad, the pigment cell precursors. Surprisingly, using sexually mosaic embryos, we find that sex determination in both the pigment cell precursors and the male-specific somatic gonadal precursors is non-cell autonomous. Male-specific expression of Wnt2 in the embryonic gonad is necessary and sufficient for pigment cell precursor formation. Our results indicate that non-autonomous sex determination is important for creating sexual dimorphism in the Drosophila gonad, similar to the manner in which sex-specific gonad formation is controlled in mammals.

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