Sexually dimorphic traits and male-specific differentiation are actively regulated by Doublesex during specific developmental windows in Nasonia vitripennis

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Y. WangEveline C. Verhulst


Sexually dimorphic traits in insects are rapidly evolving due to sexual selection which can ultimately lead to speciation. However, our knowledge of the underlying sex-specific molecular mechanisms is still scarce. Here we show that the highly conserved gene, Doublesex (Dsx), regulates rapidly diverging sexually dimorphic traits and differentiation in the model parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae). We present here the revised full Dsx gene structure with an alternative exon one and two additional male NvDsx isoforms, which gives important insights into the evolution of the sex-specific oligomerization domains and C-termini. We show the sex-specific NvDsx expression throughout development, and demonstrate that transient NvDsx silencing in different male developmental stages dramatically shifts the morphology of two sexually dimorphic traits from male to female, with the effect being dependent on the timing of silencing. In addition, transient silencing of NvDsx in early male larvae affects male genitalia tissue growth but not morphology. This shows that male NvDsx is actively required to suppress female-specific traits and promote male-specific traits during specific developmental windows. These result...Continue Reading

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