Fruitless RNAi knockdown in males interferes with copulation success in Schistocerca gregaria.
ABSTRACT In Drosophila melanogaster, the male-specific splice isoform of the fruitless gene (Fru(M)) codes for a set of transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of male courtship and copulation. Fru(M) is expressed in an interconnected neuronal circuit containing central and sensory neurons as well as motor neurons. A partial sequence from the Schistocerca gregaria fru-gene from an EST database allowed quantitative real time analysis of fru-expression in adult locusts, and revealed the highest expression in the testes, accessory glands as well as the brain (and optic lobes). Starting fru specific RNAi knockdown in the third and fourth nymphal stage resulted in a significantly lower cumulative copulation frequency of the RNAi-treated animals compared to controls after 3 h of observation. In addition, the testes of RNAi-treated males weigh less. Analysis of the egg pods resulting from a successful copulation event revealed that egg pods from females that mated with an RNAi-treated male were smaller and contained less fertilized eggs compared to egg pods from females who mated with control males. Starting injections in the fifth nymphal stage showed the complete opposite for the cumulative copulation frequency and testes weight. We conclude that already in the early nymphal phases of male desert locusts, fruitless starts to play an important role in the regulation of successful copulation in the adult. The RNAi treatment in the male has also its effects on fertility and fecundity. It remains unknown whether this effect is coming from aberrant courtship behaviour or from an altered composition of the sperm or seminal fluids.
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Article: Sexual dimorphism in the fly brain.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Sex-specific behavior may originate from differences in brain structure or function. In Drosophila, the action of the male-specific isoform of fruitless in about 2000 neurons appears to be necessary and sufficient for many aspects of male courtship behavior. Initial work found limited evidence for anatomical dimorphism in these fru+ neurons. Subsequently, three discrete anatomical differences in central brain fru+ neurons have been reported, but the global organization of sex differences in wiring is unclear. A global search for structural differences in the Drosophila brain identified large volumetric differences between males and females, mostly in higher brain centers. In parallel, saturating clonal analysis of fru+ neurons using mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker identified 62 neuroblast lineages that generate fru+ neurons in the brain. Coregistering images from male and female brains identified 19 new dimorphisms in males; these are highly concentrated in male-enlarged higher brain centers. Seven dimorphic lineages also had female-specific arbors. In addition, at least 5 of 51 fru+ lineages in the nerve cord are dimorphic. We use these data to predict >700 potential sites of dimorphic neural connectivity. These are particularly enriched in third-order olfactory neurons of the lateral horn, where we provide strong evidence for dimorphic anatomical connections by labeling partner neurons in different colors in the same brain. Our analysis reveals substantial differences in wiring and gross anatomy between male and female fly brains. Reciprocal connection differences in the lateral horn offer a plausible explanation for opposing responses to sex pheromones in male and female flies.Current biology: CB 09/2010; 20(18):1589-601. · 10.99 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Changes in the color of the cuticle, days after the completion of hardening, are rare in adult insects. Even more so when such changes are specific to one sexual form and coincide with sexual maturation. Adult males of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria deposit a well characterized 'yellow protein' in their cuticle about 10 days after the adult molt, but only if they live under crowded (gregarious) conditions. Isolated-reared (solitarious) males do not turn yellow, neither do the females. Upon regrouping, yellowing is quickly induced, but again, only in the males. Juvenile hormone (JH) is involved, but its sex- and phase-specific effect suggests that other factors are also involved. We analyzed the recent and classical literature to find out what should be added or changed to the classical way of thinking on sex differentiation in insects so that a comprehensive conceptual framework could emerge. Undervalued and/or new data on male accessory glands as a possible second site of JH synthesis, on ecdysteroids as possible sex steroids, on the transcription factor fruitless in insects and on the evolutionarily highly conserved transcription factor Foxl2 that, when ablated in mice is responsible for the transdifferentiation of the ovaries into testes, are considered.Journal of insect physiology 03/2010; 56(8):919-25. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Grasshopper serves as important model system in neuroscience, development and evolution. Representatives of this primitive insect group are also highly relevant targets of pest control efforts. Unfortunately, the lack of genetics or gene specific molecular manipulation imposes major limitations to the study of grasshopper biology. We investigated whether juvenile instars of the grasshopper species Schistocerca americana are conducive to gene silencing via the systemic RNAi pathway. Injection of dsRNA corresponding to the eye colour gene vermilion into first instar nymphs triggered suppression of ommochrome formation in the eye lasting through two instars equivalent to 10-14 days in absolute time. QRT-PCR analysis revealed a two fold decrease of target transcript levels in affected animals. Control injections of EGFP dsRNA did not result in detectable phenotypic changes. RT-PCR and in situ hybridization detected ubiquitous expression of the grasshopper homolog of the dsRNA channel protein gene sid-1 in embryos, nymphs and adults. Our results demonstrate that systemic dsRNA application elicits specific and long-term gene silencing in juvenile grasshopper instars. The conservation of systemic RNAi in the grasshopper suggests that this pathway can be exploited for gene specific manipulation of juvenile and adult instars in a wide range of primitive insects.BMC Biotechnology 02/2005; 5:25. · 2.17 Impact Factor