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Expression of a desaturase gene, desat1, in neural and nonneural tissues separately affects perception and emission of sex pheromones in Drosophila

Bousquet, Francois; Nojima, Tetsuya; Houot, Benjamin; Chauvel, Isabelle; Chaudy, Sylvie; Dupas, Stephane; Yamamoto, Daisuke; Ferveur, Jean-Francois


Animals often use sex pheromones for mate choice and reproduction. As for other signals, the genetic control of the emission and perception of sex pheromones must be tightly coadapted, and yet we still have no worked-out example of how these two aspects interact. Most models suggest that emission and perception rely on separate genetic control. We have identified a Drosophila melanogaster gene, desat1, that is involved in both the emission and the perception of sex pheromones. To explore the mechanism whereby these two aspects of communication interact, we investigated the relationship between the molecular structure, tissue-specific expression, and pheromonal phenotypes of desat1. We characterized the five desat1 transcripts-all of which yielded the same desaturase protein-and constructed transgenes with the different desat1 putative regulatory regions. Each region was used to target reporter transgenes with either (i) the fluorescent GFP marker to reveal desat1 tissue expression, or (ii) the desat1 RNAi sequence to determine the effects of genetic down-regulation on pheromonal phenotypes. We found that desat1 is expressed in a variety of neural and nonneural tissues, most of which are involved in reproductive functions. Our results suggest that distinct desat1 putative regulatory regions independently drive the expression in nonneural and in neural cells, such that the emission and perception of sex pheromones are precisely coordinated in this species.


sensory communication; pleiotropy; hydrocarbon; oenocyte

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2012, Volym: 109, nummer: 1, sidor: 249-254

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