Genes expressed in the Drosophila head reveal a role for fat cells in sex-specific physiology. Academic Article uri icon


  • The downstream effectors of the Drosophila sex determination cascade are mostly unknown and thought to mediate all aspects of sexual differentiation, physiology and behavior. Here, we employed serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) to identify male and female effectors expressed in the head, and report 46 sex-biased genes (>4-fold/P < 0.01). We characterized four novel, male- or female-specific genes and found that all are expressed mainly in the fat cells in the head. Tsx (turn on sex-specificity), sxe1 and sxe2 (sex-specific enzyme 1/2) are expressed in males, but not females, and are dependent on the known sex determination pathway, specifically transformer (tra) and its downstream target doublesex (dsx). Female-specific expression of the fourth gene, fit (female-specific independent of transformer), is not controlled by tra and dsx, suggesting an alternative pathway for the regulation of some effector genes. Our results indicate that fat cells in the head express sex-specific effectors, thereby generating distinct physiological conditions in the male and female head. We suggest that these differences have consequences on the male and female brain by modulating sex-specific neuronal processes.

published proceedings

  • EMBO J

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Fujii, S., & Amrein, H.

citation count

  • 109

complete list of authors

  • Fujii, Shinsuke||Amrein, Hubert

publication date

  • October 2002